Developer Blocks Footpath

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 7:13am

By Aran Dhillon - Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have raised concerns over the footpath being blocked

Next Big Thing Developments has put a fence across the footpath and blocked public access from Bewsey Old Hall to Sankey Valley Park.

But Chapelford and Old Hall councillors Steve Parish, Rebecca Knowles and Paul Warburton are leading a campaign to have it declared as a public right of way.

Cllr Parish said it looked like the firm was planning to complete the 48 apartments that were part of the original consent to adapt Bewsey Old Hall for apartments, or to apply for consent for something different.

He added: “The path has been widely used by the community for decades and the planning inspector who approved the plans clearly referred to it as a public footpath, but it is not on the definitive map as a right of way.

“It’s always been treated as a public footpath and we’re confident that it can be recognised as a right of way to ensure future public access.

“However, we do need evidence from residents and users to support this and reopen the footpath.”

But Next Big Thing Developments has responded to the councillors.

And the developer says it is ‘surprised’ to hear about the campaign.

A spokesman added: “The land in question was transferred from the Homes and Communities Agency to Urban Splash several years ago under a development agreement to save Bewsey Old Hall from further deterioration.

“Next Big Thing Developments subsequently acquired the hall and the land and successfully completed the first phase of the works, resulting in the removal of Bewsey Old Hall’s entry in English Heritage’s Buildings at risk register.

“The remaining land is phase two of the development of the site.

“The land is privately owned and is an active building site so it is absolutely necessary to block this off from unauthorised access to comply with health and safety regulations.

“The designated entrance to Sankey Valley Park is well signposted and is a very short walk away.

“We are surprised to hear of the campaign to designate part of our land as a public right of way as we have not seen any reference to this being the legally accepted position at any stage in the lengthy process leading up to the development of the hall and the adjacent land.

“This process involved a whole range of parties, including the local councillors and the council’s planning and legal team.

“That said, the landscaping scheme for the development has not been finalised and we will be happy to listen to any concerns that are raised by the local councillors to see if these can be addressed in the final scheme.”

Residents who wish to provide evidence can contact Chris Bluck, the council’s principal engineer, by e-mailing cbluck@warrington.gov.uk

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