It's taken 13 years but there is, literally, now light at both ends of the Brydges Place tunnel.

This long-running saga started when in 2002 a local businessman was alarmed to see work to gate (or in this case door) the north/south spur of Brydges Place.

Reputedly the narrowest footpath in London (15 inches at its narrowest point) Brydges Place near Charing Cross runs between Bedfordbury and St Martins Lane and down to Chandos Place. In 2000, a local resident living next to the path obtained planning permission from Westminster City Council to `door' the passageway to Chandos Place, claimed it as private property, and started using it as a parking garage.

This narrow public right of way runs east/west between Chandos Place and St Martins Lane adjacent to the London Coliseum, just up from Charing Cross. It's been in existence, under various names, since early in the 19th century, and whilst it had not necessarily been the most attractive short cut it did serve a number of homes and businesses, as well as an emergency exit route for the Coliseum.

Westminster City Council policy is generally against gating, and previous applications to door this passageway had been refused on the grounds that it was part of the highway and public right of way.

Brydges Place signageHow this application was granted is unclear, but it soon became obvious when Dominc Pinto, one of Inner London Ramblers' campaigners, first got involved in the spring of 2009 that there were some singular features.  Key papers, including the details of previous applications were missing.  Dominic was able to supply copies of those from the local community association files.  That, together with searches of the St Martins Vestry minute book in the archives, backing from the community association, and advice from the Open Spaces Society, got his work on the way. The collection and submission of local residents statements as to the open nature of the alley and passageway, and uninterrupted use going back to at least the 1950s, and the City Council's own highways department also asserting the passageway as highway going back at least 60 years, were all material in getting the matter looked at in detail.

With local councillors involved, and endorsement by the Inner London Area Council to pursue the campaign, Dominic and the local businessman kept the pressure up, working in parallel and co-operation. This culminated, eventually, in a lengthy meeting with the cabinet member and lawyers, and a further review.  Finally, in 2013, the City Council decided to assert that Brydges Place was public highway and gave notice that unless the obstructing doors were removed by the property owner they would take action to remove them.  Early in 2014 the doors came down.

We then pressed for street name signage, that had existed prior to 2002, should be restored, and the private property signs removed. It has taken a further almost 18 months and in June those signs went up.