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With the Ramblers’ Association, we have saved a path at Wellow, five miles south of Bath, from being moved to an inferior route. This follows a public inquiry held on 2 November into Bath and North East Somerset Council’s (BANES) plans to move the path.
The existing route runs from Bull’s Hill south to join another path near Wellow Brook. The proposed new route joins the road at the bottom of Bull’s Hill, through the arch of the former railway viaduct. On reaching the road, the view for walkers is blocked by one of the pillars of the viaduct.
Our local correspondent, John Ives, had objected to the proposal. The new termination point for the path was required by law to be as good as the existing one. However BANES admitted that the visibility was not so good, and it was relying on being able to place a mirror on the opposite side of the road to the proposed new exit for the path.
John argued that the end point of the new path was dangerous, and that such a mirror required the consent of the Department for Transport, which would be reluctant to approve it.
The inspector, Mr Peter Millman, was concerned at the poor visibility for walkers at the proposed exit, and that the council had not checked whether it would need authorisation for the mirror or that the landowner would allow it. Thus the proposal failed this crucial test and the inspector refused to confirm the order.
Says John: ‘I am extremely happy that the inspector recognised the importance of having safe exit-points onto the highway. This case acts as a reminder to highway authorities that all the legal tests must be met before a path order can be confirmed.’
David Waterstone, footpath secretary for the Ramblers in Bath, gave the hearing a detailed explanation of the risks the proposed new route presented to walkers. He says: ‘I am delighted at the Inspector’s findings which seem fully to accept the risk to safety.’