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Fighting for right of way

Posted on March 29 2018 at 1:31:50

Barnt Green Parish Council has joined calls for a public right of way to be reopened.

Footpath 521, which begins at Cofton Church Lane close to Cofton Richards Farm, used to run underneath the railway line but was closed off in 1939 when the wartime“shadow factory” was built at Longbridge’s East Works site.

Cofton Hackett’s parish footpaths warden, Steve Bach, told Barnt Green councillors that there was no longer any reason for the path to be closed, as the site was now a housing estate and reopening the path would give all residents better access to the countryside.

“St Modwen owns the land, and they want the path kept closed – they probably don’t want walkers on there. Cofton Hackett Parish Council has written to St Modwen but we haven’t got very far.”

Mr Bach said St Modwen’s response was that the path runs through a “water sampling point” used by the Environment Agency, and also cited health and safety reasons for the continued closure.

He added that Worcestershire County Council “does not want to get involved” and advocates negotiation with the landowner.

Coun Charlie Hotham said he had raised the issue when the first part of the development was built, but Bromsgrove District Council had not been keen to reopen the path as it would go through a dark tunnel.

Coun Susan Whitehand said: “St Modwen probably want to build on the land – it will be a brick wall if we try to negotiate with them.”

Coun Sam Harris asked if the gates could be opened forcibly as the path was a public right of way, but there were concerns that this may constitute criminal damage.

All councillors were in favour of supporting the re-opening, and agreed to write to Patrick White, Countryside Access Officer for Worcestershire County Council.

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