A LONDON property developer has threatened to put up a nine-foot high screen fence along a pretty woodland path at Bratton, after losing a battle to close the footpath completely.

Henry Pelly, of Luccombe Mill, Bratton, says he will put up the screen to protect his privacy from villagers and ramblers using the Watercress Walk.

He has already created an additional path that runs alongside the public footpath for the first 100-metre stretch to take the walk off his land.

Mr Pelly wants to divert part of the walk that goes through his garden and says that so far his alternative route has met with a positive reaction from all but two people.

He has also applied to Wiltshire Council to have the new public right of way diverted, after being told to re-open it after he closed it without permission last year, but his application may take up to a year to be considered because of a backlog.

The screening threat is the latest twist to an ongoing battle with villagers and ramblers that resulted in the footpath being designated as a public right of way.

In a letter to villagers, Mr Pelly said: “The reason I have created this path is my desire for privacy, which is why we had the battle in the first place.”

“As you will know, when you walk along the public footpath, you can clearly see every part of the house and garden.

“I’m sure everyone can appreciate, if not sympathise, that it’s nice to be able to sit in one’s garden without being observed 24/7.

“So far, with the known exception of two people, the alternative route has been met with positive approval.

“Those who have kindly given me some feedback (many from my end of the village) say this route offers easier access and a pleasant open walk through the paddock, whilst still giving them the same Watercress Walk to Paradise Pool and the circular route they like.

“Whilst I do fully appreciate the current public footpath has been granted, in my quest for privacy I may (depending on how things turn out) have to erect a 2.5-metre high screen immediately adjacent to the path, which will run the length of the garden.”

“Unfortunately, because the existing route goes through mature trees, there is insufficient light to grow something more natural and in keeping.

“Of course, very much hoping it won’t come to this, as the screen will be ugly for all concerned.”