North Runcton villagers launch legal fight in land access row

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People in a village near Lynn have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for legal action in a row over access rights.

Residents in North Runcton believe the Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) group is acting illegally by crossing a part of School Lane it has no rights over to carry out building work.

But they believe they will need to raise around £250,000 in order to apply for a court injunction to stop them in what they have described as a “David versus Goliath” battle.

An online fundraising page has been set up and a public meeting was held at the village’s scout hut on Wednesday to encourage villagers to get involved.

Keith Longhurst, one of the organisers of the meeting, said they were in contact with several organisation in the hope of securing their backing for the legal campaign.

But he added: “We need people to support this. Anything will help.”

The action relates to ongoing work to build more than 30 log cabins on a site to the east of the Green, which the SDA owns.

Although the scheme does have planning permission, the land can currently only be accessed via School Lane, part of which is owned by the parish council.

Proposals to agree a formal access arrangement, known as an easement, between the parish council and the SDA were scrapped last year after villagers overwhelmingly rejected it in two separate polls.

And Mr Longhurst said that, without that, the SDA was “trespassing.”

Although the village’s parish council is also seeking its own legal advice on the issue, the meeting was told that action needs to be taken now before the project is completed.

A survey commissioned by the parish council before planning permission was granted claimed the scheme would attract 30,000 extra vehicles a year and objectors say that would rip the heart out of the village.

Mr Longhurst said: “I moved here 27 years ago. It’s a peaceful, beautiful village. If this goes ahead, all that will be gone.”

Fellow campaigner Lyndon Baker also insisted the dispute was not motivated by opposition to the SDA as a group.

He said: “It’s not about their beliefs, their processes. It’s about them trying to bully their way into our real estate.”

The meeting was told that the SDA had already threatened its own legal proceedings against individual residents.

Objectors also plan to report the SDA to West Norfolk Council over what it says are breaches of the original planning consent.

And there are concerns that a second access point to the site could be sought via Setch Road.

The meeting heard that representatives of the neighbouring Middleton parish council had been informed and were looking into the issue.

More details of the appeal can be found by searching for North Runcton at www.youcaring.com.