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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 12:47 GMT
Cashing in on medieval law
Map of area
Sutton-on-the-Forest residents may face an access charge
A North Yorkshire Lord of the Manor could be about to reap thousands of pounds from local villagers - thanks to an archaic law.

The centuries-old law could force the residents in Sutton-on-the-Forest to pay the cash to Sir George Wombwell, of Newburgh Priory, for the right to use their drives.

Residents of the village, situated between York and Easingwold, have described the law as medieval and held a meeting to find out how they may be affected.

Residents Anne Butler and Anne Harrison spoke at the meeting and were joined by about 80 others from dozens of houses which front the main street or York Road.

Map showing Sutton-on-the-Forest

The meeting heard how the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 was made to prevent landowners taking advantage of people who want to buy rights to cross common land in a car.

The 2000 Act has set a deadline of July 3, 2003 for agreements to be made on current terms.

The cost of access could range between a quarter of one percent and a full two percent of the value of the property - depending on its age.

Many of the properties in the village are valued in the region of 200,000.

Sir George Wombell would not comment, but soundings from his estate are that he does not want a confrontation with the village.

It is understood he will be keen to see the builders of new houses paying up.


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