A charity group is ‘over the moon’ after councillors accepted proposals to re-establish access to a popular Weymouth beach. 

The Friends of Castle Cove Beach applauded the decision by Dorset County Council’s (DCC) regulatory committee, which accepted its application to declare the footpath to Castle Cove a public right of way.

It follows a three-year-long campaign by the Friends which has been fighting to regain access to the beach. The only footpath to the beach was closed in March 2013 after a landslip. 

Friends member Tony Dobbs, who presented the case to the committee, said: “I’m over the moon. 

“79 members of the public submitted statements in 2014 about their use of the path for various periods over 70 years.

“Our witnesses included councillors, teachers, company directors and tourists. I am very grateful for the effort they made. The county councillors on the committee have listened to the voice of the community.

“It is a victory for the local public who have always believed they had a right to get to the beach that way.”

Cllrs Clare Sutton and Kate Wheller presented evidence in support of the application alongside a representative from the trustees of the Friends. 

Cllr Sutton said: “I am absolutely delighted. There’s more to do but this decision is a huge boost.”

Mr Dobbs said current landowners Commodores Row Management objected to the application due to worries over liability for a new public path. 

He said: “We are working actively together to create a safe public access back to the beach. We hope to sign a lease with them soon as part of this.”

The decision is not the final step, and there will be a public consultation before a right of way can be confirmed. There may also be an appeal. 

Meanwhile, the Friends say they will negotiate to take out a lease on the slope and build new steps. 

A DCC spokesman said: “The regulatory committee approved the application and an order will now be made to add it to the definitive map and statement of public rights of way.

"If there are no objections, then it will become a public right of way. If there are any objections and these are not withdrawn then the order must be sent to the Secretary of State for determination. 

“The Secretary of State would appoint an independent inspector to decide the matter. This could be done through written representations, a hearing or a public inquiry.”