Following a statement from Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, in relation to ongoing action over access rights, PD Ports would like to make clear, the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) and its subsidiary organisation South Tees Developments Limited are involved in legal action against PD Teesport, whereby STDC denies that PD Teesport Limited has any rights of access across STDC’s land to and from South Gare. There is no dispute as to ownership of the road. South Gare was originally built by the Tees Conservancy Commissioners as the predecessors to PD Teesport with the intended purpose to act as a breakwater to protect the River Tees and provide safe navigation. It was opened in 1888. As well as protecting the River Tees, South Gare is home to around 80 of our licensees and tenants many of whom have small cabins and fishing huts, as well as being of important ecological significance.
The litigation commenced in 2021, with STDC and their subsidiary company instructing Forsters of Mayfair, London, who claimed PD Teesport Limited had no rights of way over STDC’s land. Before this, in April 2019 the STDC wrote to PD Teesport stating: “to reassure you STDC do not intend to interfere with your continued occupation or to materially affect your day-to-day operations.” This assurance was given in order that PD Teesport did not lodge a formal objection to what was then a proposed compulsory purchase order (CPO) within the period for statutory objections. In good faith PD Teesport relied upon this assurance and did not formally object to the CPO within the time limit.
At the CPO Inquiry in February 2020 STDC took the position that “STDC is aware that PD Teesport has long used South Gare Road in order to access its land to the breakwater. STDC has confirmed to PD Teesport that it will be able to continue to use South Gare Road following confirmation and implementation of the CPO…”.
We are confident that we have long established rights of access over the South Gare Road. In addition, historic legal documentation has been presented to STDC which shows our rights of access across the private road to South Gare in any case.
Despite this and requests from our solicitors that STDC concede the South Gare issue in order to save both parties the expense of proving the historic use of the road at trial, STDC continues to deny PD Teesport’s rights over the South Gare road at significant cost to the taxpayer.
It is regrettable that in those circumstances access to South Gare remains a matter in dispute in legal proceedings commenced by STDC. However, PD Ports is confident that it will successfully obtain a declaration confirming its rights of access over the South Gare Road, in order to continue to maintain and protect South Gare, facilitating access for its tenants, licencees, agents, workman and all other persons entitled to use the road.
The Court papers may be accessed through the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website through opening an account under Create and manage your account-GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) with the case reference being BL-2021-000461.
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