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An inspector acting for the environment secretary has ruled that Rawtenstall public footpath number 237 should be closed, to enable Lancashire County Council to build a new Waterfoot Primary School.
There were nine objections, from the Open Spaces Society, Rossendale Ramblers and others, to Lancashire County Council’s plan to stop up the path, and a hearing was held in June. The inspector, Mr Michael Lowe, decided that the path can go.
Says our general secretary Kate Ashbrook: ‘It is sad that local people will lose an attractive route and be forced to walk alongside Booth Road. The inspector agreed with us that “the proposed stopping up of the footpath would result in a loss of access to and enjoyment of the countryside” and that the existing footpath “provides an attractive walk with superb views over the valley”.’
The inspector concluded: ‘Overall I recognise that the proposal has significant disadvantages in terms of the loss of amenity afforded by the existing footpath and the absence of an alternative route’ but he felt that the advantages of providing a replacement primary school outweighed the disadvantages.
Says Kate: ‘Unfortunately the law on closing and moving paths in connection with planning applications does not favour the public who use the routes. The overriding criterion which the county council had to prove was that it was necessary to close the path in order for the development to take place. Since the council had planning permission for the new school across the footpath, it was difficult to argue against that. However, we are deeply concerned that this pleasant footpath has been snatched from the public.’