A “magical” secret path which has charmed Brightonians for almost two centuries is under threat after being deemed a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
The pathway which links one end of the Hanover Crescent Gardens to the other could be closed if members of the private estate’s committee decide to get rid of it.
The Hanover Crescent committee has already voted to plant over it, after being approached by residents as well as Brighton police and Brighton and Hove City Council who believe it could provide a cover for undesirable behaviour.
But as the move had the potential to stir passions, it also decided to send a questionnaire to residents directly – and now a petition has also been launched to save it, and its secret charm.
The man behind the petition, Tim Harbridge, said: “Many people who live here don’t even know about it – but that’s part of it’s secret charm that’s endured for 200 years.
“It’s now under threat from a majority of garden committee members intent on change and not preservation. It has been, wrongly, portrayed as a no-go area and a magnet for anti-social behaviour but if you’d just wander down there you’d see it’s a pretty and magical little path that residents have strolled for almost two centuries.
“Anti-social behaviour is conducted in sheltered and hidden areas of undergrowth so planting over this old path will only serve to harbour such activity.”
Committee secretary Neil Purssey said: “It was decided by a democratic process which the committee has to follow according to an 1884 act of parliament.
“Personally, I don’t care whether the path stays or goes. The committee was asked at the AGM in May to close the path, not just by residents but by the police and Brighton and Hove City Council because of vagrants coming into the garden and the bushes allowing them to hide.
“On this occasion, it was suggested that because it was a passionate item the committee decided to put a questionnaire to all houses and residents of Hanover Crescent and the result will come up at the next committee meeting next Monday, 8 September.”
The crescent was first conceived exactly 200 years ago, and the road and facades were completed in 1822, with each house then built by its respective owner. All the houses, lodges, gates and wall were Grade II listed in the 1950s.