DOG walkers are joining together to claim the right to walk along a pathway at privately-owned Yarnton Manor.

The new owners at the manor recently prevented walkers from using a section of their pathway in Church Lane because of their decision to transform the building into an international study centreInternational Study Centre.

Owner George Humphreys said they were now subject to child protection policies and regulations issued by the Department for Education because many of their students would be under the age of 18.

But dog walkers in Yarnton said at a parish council meeting on Wednesday that they had been using the pathway for “more than 30 years” and would nowsubmit a “permissive access” application.

A permissive access application is an agreement between a land owner and a group to allow walking on the owner’s land, but the validation can only be granted if there is a "specific purpose".

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Yarnton local Louise Groves, a teacher from The Garth, encouraged other walkers at the meeting to write to the Yarnton Manor owner. so that they can use the pathway again.

The 57-year-old said: “People have walked their dogs on the path for many years, and I have been walking mine for more than 30 years. I think we want to form a ramblers’ group – the path should be kept open.”

Property maintenance manager Richard Byrne, of Aysgarth Road, Yarnton, added: “I have lived in this village all my life.

"Why should they just come along and change it without giving anyone any notice?

“We just want a little bit of leeway but they just want it their way and I would like to know what these child protection issues are that they are referring to.”

Yarnton Parish Council chairman Fred Jones started the meeting by clarifyingpointed out that the Manor Farm complex was on privately owned land and the owners were within their rights to forbid access.

He said: “You will have to decide what it is you want to achieve and what you want to do, but we have a new owner who is exercising his legal right.”

Mr Humphreys said the manor would continue to provide signs clearly outlining where walkers could go and which areas were privately-owned land.

He added: “In due course, prior to the arrival of our students, we will be altering the gates in to Manor Farm at both entrances to restrict access into the complex.

“We do appreciate that some of the local walkers are disappointed to no longer be able to walk on the manor’s land and we hope that they will understand the reasons for our actions.

"We politely request that walkers respect the fact that our students must have a secure, safe environment in which to live and study.”

No one was available for comment at Oxford Royale Academy International Study Centre but its website said private tuition started last month.