RESIDENTS in Ystrad Mynach are a step closer to walking a footpath they have campaigned 19-years to access.
The path between Park Lane, in Tredomen, and an existing footpath has been described as a “sanctuary” by residents.
On January 31, Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) published an interim decision that would grant residents access to the path. The decision is subject to consultation, therefore the public do not have the right, until the order is confirmed.
In PEDW’s report, Planning inspector Janine Townsley, agreed the path was used by the public for a period of 20 years without “force, secrecy, or permission”.
Ms Townsley had to decide this on the balance of probabilities in order to grant the right of way.
How did we get here?
In 2019, Caerphilly County Borough Council declared a new public right of way under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and designated it number 39.
The original application for the right of way was made in 2005 by Judith Lewis, who has since moved out of the area. In 2017, resident Susan Smith took over the application.
The 14-year wait has been blamed on a “council backlog”. A council spokesperson admitted: “Given our limited resources, and other statutory duties carried out by officers of the public rights of way department, these matters can take a considerable time to resolve.”
Ellen Salton took ownership of land the footpath crosses in 2002 and erected “private property” signs to deter residents from using it. Residents argue the signs didn’t appear until 2004/2005.
A public inquiry was held on September 13 and 14 after she appealed the right of way.
Ms Salton argued there was not a clear path, and the area was not used by residents. She also claimed there is a “conspiracy” against her.
The inquiry herd from residents who said they had walked the path since the 1970s – which Ms Salton disputes.
Resident Diana Tura described the bluebell woods along the path as her “sanctuary”. She said: “All the people in Tredomen just want to keep what we have, nothing more.”
Fellow community member Brian Elliot spoke on behalf of other supporters at the inquiry. He said: “We have used the through route over many decades consistently.” He added the community wants access to the “peaceful” area.
But David Horgan, who owns a nursery in the area, spoke in support of the objector Ms Salton. He said he had never walked the footpath described by the residents.
During the past four years, the path has remained closed while the appeals process takes place. Residents expressed their dismay that the path hasn’t been open during the process.
What happens now?
As part of the consultation, people have until Thursday March 16 to object to the interim decision.
Resident Susan Smith said she wants parts A to C of the path to be included in the order (see diagram), to prevent the route being taken away in future, if the land was sold. Currently, the interim decision order only includes parts C to F.
Parts A to C crosses council-owned land, which is already publicly accessible. Because of this, the council say PEDW does not have the powers to include it in the order.
Ms Smith said: “I used to walk so much with my grandfather and now with my grandchildren. It’s good for your wellbeing and I want others to have that opportunity.”
If the order is confirmed, a notice period of 28 days will be given before it becomes a public right of way. Following this 28 day period, the council’s statutory duties would apply – meaning it would need to clear the path which is currently overgrown.