It is quite some time since members of The Ipswich Society were asked if they could provide evidence of pedestrian use for the Fonnereau Way. (The Society had given strong support when the newly named route was established, particularly to protect it from the possibility of being lost in any future development.) This path from Christchurch Park northwards to Lower Road Westerfield is one of the few that allow walkers to reach open countryside from the centre of town, avoiding almost all roads. It's been marked as a path on the OS maps since 1880 and on Wilfred George's map for about 30 years - no one objected. I've walked it for 30 years and others, still living, have done so for 37 years before that.
To legally protect the Fonnereau Way path it was claimed as a Public Right of Way, and on 11 January 2010 Suffolk County Council's Rights of Way Committee formally authorised its inclusion on the Ipswich Definitive Map. However Network Rail objected to the path being public where it crosses the line west of the station at Westerfield. Subsequently the planning Inspector accepted the argument that the crossing was private footpath at this point and that public use of it had been trespass. This part was therefore deleted with its continuation to Lower Road, Westerfield. An appeal was lodged against this interim judgment and a Public Inquiry held in December 2011. At the Inquiry more evidence was provided to support the case that the route had been used by the public both before and after the railway's construction in the late 1850s. This evidence was gathered from Suffolk Public Record Office and from some 24 members of the public who recalled using the path as far back as the mid-1930s. The Ramblers Headquarters supported the appeal by providing legal argument against Network Rail's position regarding trespass.
We therefore received with great pleasure the Planning Inspector's final decision (9 January of this year) which accepted the path in its entirety. The Inspector's judgment was that "on the balance of evidence, a path had existed before railway work began in c.1856." This decision was based mainly on submitted evidence of use. Network Rail may still appeal against this decision to the High Court. In the meantime a celebratory walk was enjoyed by local ramblers on 14 January using the restored part of the route. The Fonnereau Way is an enjoyable walk and is highly recommended. The route is described in East Suffolk Line Walks booklet and also in a Greenways leaflet available from Ipswich TIC. You could also follow the distinctive shields that line the route, now "recalled to life" as a visitor to the Great White Horse once wrote.