MISTLEY Quay will finally be set free after more than a decade of campaigning by residents.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by port owner TW Logistics on Friday, which challenged the validity of the quay being registered as a village green.

A 1.8-metre high metal fence was put up by the company in 2008 after the Health and Safety Executive raised concerns that people could fall into the water.

It sparked years of legal wranglings with quayside resident Ian Tucker challenging the move for obstructing locals' right to enjoy the quay and its views of the River Stour.

Following a ten-day public inquiry in 2014 Essex County Council agreed to register part of the picturesque waterfront, which had been used by dog walkers and residents for decades, as a village green.

TW Logistics challenged the decision at the High Court, but the appeal was turned down in 2016.

A further challenge went to the High Court of Appeal in 2018 with the owners arguing that village green status would deny them lawful on-going use of the quayside, but it too was rejected.

The Supreme Court has now dismissed the final appeal and upheld the village green registration.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Fenched in - the quayside pictured earlier this week

Simon Bullimore, chairman of Free the Quay campaign, said: “We are all delighted with the result after such a long battle.

"The next stage will be the removal of the fence which is now finally established as an obstruction on the village green.

"We hope that TW Logistics and Mr Parker, who owns the business, will now change his mind and talk to us about an environmentally and aesthetically acceptable form of safety barrier along the quay edge, allowing traditional use of the village green."

TWL challenged the registration of the village green on the grounds that it was incompatible with commercial use of the port and would criminalise many port activities.

But the Supreme Court ruled the status and the landowner's use of the quay can co-exist.

It said the port use would not constitute a breach of the criminal laws aimed to protect village greens and there should be a degree of "give and take" between the owners and residents.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

Mistley Quay - a bird's eye view of the quay

Mr Bullimore said the bid to free the quay would not have been possible without the "support and determination" of Essex County Council.

Mr Tucker said: “This truly is a momentous day for myself and the community of Mistley, who can now appreciate the sweeping views of the River Stour visible from the quayside without limitation."

"It has been a long and complicated process but we are very grateful for the continued support of the Birketts’ team, who have been with us every step of the way.”

Nancy Bell, who lives on the quay, added: “The fence went up when my daughter Daisy was a toddler; she is now 14.

"She has never known anything else on the quay.

"I am so happy that we can now look forward to enjoying the restoration of the quay to its historic setting."

Richard Eaton, from law firm Birketts, which represented Mr Tucker, added: “If ever there was a time when we need our local public spaces for recreation, it is now.

"Our congratulations to the well organised and determined Mistley inhabitants and our thanks for having the privilege to represent Ian on their behalf.”

TW Logistics had not responded at the time of going to press.