Highways land battle

Geoffrey Doubleday on the piece of land he is contesting with the Highways Agency.
Geoffrey Doubleday on the piece of land he is contesting with the Highways Agency.

A Wisbech man is at loggerheads with the Highways Agency over a piece of land he claims should be his, according to a letter that was sent in 1988.

Geoffrey Doubleday, who lives in Broadgate Road West, is in possession of a letter that says he can have the land that runs between his orchard and the A47 bypass.

Mr Doubleday was in dispute with the Land Registry and Highways Agency about the main bulk of the land, which runs in a long strip parallel to the Wisbech bypass. Highways claimed rights to half of the land, which the Wisbech farmer believed he had purchased from the landowner in 1986.

This dispute has now been resolved but Mr Doubleday is not content and wants the Highways Agency to honour the letter he received more than 20 years ago.

“It’s not about the land,” Mr Doubleday said. “The land is worth nothing. But it is vitally important to me. The ditch running through this land is vital to drain my orchard.”

Mr Doubleday said he has maintained the ditch since he took over the land, as it needs to be clear to take the run-off from his own land. But now he claims the drainage board will not do any more to it while ownership is in question.

“I have been claiming this land for 28 years. I believe that is sufficient to establish it as mine. I just want the Highways Agency to honour the letter,” he added.

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “The small plot of land along the A47 that Mr Doubleday refers to forms part of the trunk road verge and was acquired for the A47 Wisbech and West Walton bypass in 1986.

“The Highways Agency has provided Mr Doubleday with a copy of the conveyance, along with other relevant information, including contact details to discuss maintenance of the drain.

“We regret that Mr Doubleday is not satisfied with the information and help provided and have advised him about our complaints procedure. We have also suggested that he seek independent legal advice should he wish to take the matter regarding land ownership further.”