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The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ruled that two popular and well-used footpaths at the fifteenth-century Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will remain public rights of way.
Welcoming the decision, our local correspondent, Gerry Stewart, said, ‘We were delighted to support the many local people who opposed the plan to close paths at Sudeley Castle.’
After holding a three-day public inquiry over the christmas period the inspector, Ms Susan Doran, has agreed with objectors and declined to confirm orders made by Gloucestershire County Council. These would have excluded parishioners and ramblers from part of the castle drive and from a path passing close to the castle linking to open countryside.
Gerry Stewart added ‘In supporting the Estate’s application to close part of the drive to the public, both the county council and Winchcombe Town Council utterly failed to grasp the strength of feeling local people have for the castle and particularly for any loss of their historical access.
‘A particularly disappointing aspect of the council’s case was the failure to show in the orders the existence of a further public path across the parkland, which was dedicated by the trustees of the Sudeley Castle Estate in 1996. If the orders had been confirmed this important route would have become a cul de sac.
‘Instead of seeking to protect the public interest in the path, both the county council and the town council attempted to ignore the path’s existence and, as a result, few people knew of it or realised the full significance of the orders.
‘We are delighted that the inspector found in favour of the public and that the paths have been rescued for public enjoyment.’