A rich developer with links to Prince Harry has won a seven-year fight with locals to block a path through the garden of his £1.25million mansion.
Henry Pelly caused a stir in 2016 when he closed the half-mile road through the 17-acre estate of his six-bedroom home in Wiltshire, called Luccombe Mill.
Pelly, 45, whose cousin Guy is Prince Harry’s best friend, came under fire from Bratton locals who said they had been able to walk the grounds for a century.
The Planning Inspectorate has overturned a decision by Wiltshire Council designating parts of Mr Pelly’s property as a public footpath.
The dispute began in 2016, when Pelly blocked the path, known as Watercress Walk, with barbed wire to prevent them from crossing the garden next to his house.
Henry Pelly (left, with partner Will Jenkins) sparked a backlash when he closed the trail.
Henry Pelly is the cousin of Guy Pelly (left), a close friend of Prince Harry (right) (Couple photographed in October 2015)
The path runs through Henry Pelly’s six-bedroom country estate in Bratton, Wiltshire.
Frustrated locals say they and hikers have used the trail since the 1930s and argue it should be recognized as a public right of way under the law.
Pelly and his partner Will Jenkins referred the matter to their lawyer after receiving protests from 81 residents.
The developer argued that hikers frequently strayed off the trail into a mill pond next to his property, while dogs also frequently entered the water.
A two-year ‘David versus Goliath’ battle ensued and the locals won their case in November 2018, when the planning inspector ordered Mr Pelly to reopen the road. Wiltshire Council subsequently issued a legal order declaring the route a right of way.
The council also built a new bridge and cleared the entire path of mud so locals could walk on it safely.
The footpath, which will now be altered, is shown in relation to Mr. Pelly’s mansion.
Following a public hearing last year, the planning inspector ruled that the footpath (pictured) can be diverted.
Local resident Katherine Beaumont has led the battle to reopen the trail.
A new appeal was then lodged with the Planning Inspectorate, which held a hearing in October and a compromise solution was reached.
Following the sentencing, part of the path through Mr Pelly’s garden will be diverted through a meadow to the south.
Planning inspector Graham Wyatt said: “I have found that the diversion is expedient in the interest of the landowner and the public and that the new termination appears to be as substantially expedient to the public.
‘It is not inconceivable that some users will be attracted to the pond, where they will be able to see the garden and whatever activity is taking place.
“In addition, this would be worse during seasons when the trees along the trail are leafless.”
The dispute has left residents of the picturesque Wiltshire village (pictured) in an uproar.
Pelly owns the £1.25million property in Bratton, Wiltshire (pictured)
Pelly told MailOnline: “After After seven years of fighting, the planning inspectorate finally approved the order to move the garden path to the adjacent meadow.
‘The new route received a lot of support from local residents during the consultation process.
“We are very happy with the decision, which we believe is a fair result for everyone.”
In previous statements, Pelly insisted they were “determined to fight” the campaign and accused locals of embarking on a “witch hunt”.
He said: ‘The path passes through our garden. It’s simply not a right of way: it’s our private property.
‘I’m sure the people campaigning for it to reopen wouldn’t like a public footpath running through their own gardens.
‘I am determined to fight this because otherwise there will simply be no privacy. If the trail were to be reopened, large fences would have to be erected, which would cost a fortune.
The trail (pictured) is claimed to have been open to the public for decades and is used by hikers.
The trail, known as Watercress Walk (trail pictured), is a public right of way.
‘The activists live in the countryside, so there are nice walks everywhere. I don’t know why they are so determined to reopen this one.
He added that the people running the campaign have not tried to talk to him about it and said their behavior left him “speechless.”
Mr Pelly said: “We are English, not Americans, so I don’t expect people to come with baked cakes.”
‘But if someone wanted to put a public right of way through my garden, I would expect them to at least try to talk to me about it.
‘It’s just shocking. It’s turning into a witch hunt. I had to consult with a specialist lawyer who deals with these matters.
Katherine Beaumont, who ran the local campaign, described the dispute as “a bit of a battle between David and Goliath”.
She cHe collected statements from villagers about the walk to present to Wiltshire Council and added: “It is a special and magical walk that means a lot to a lot of people.”
‘He says it’s through his garden, but there is a lake and a path in the woods between his house and where we walked. It’s not like we’re passing through his front yard.