RIGHTS OF WAY WATCH
For hundreds of years it was a bridleway.
Three-years ago it was blocked off by a developer.
Tameside Council agrees it is a bridleway
The Planning Inspectorate, however, want to hold a Public Inquiry
Tony Turner, Chairman of the West Penine Bridleways Association, tell the story of Heron Lane, Mossley, Lancashire.
Thirty-years ago and, maybe, for hundreds of years before that, Heron Lane was used by horses, ridden, driven and working.
It connects a main road, Wakefield Road, with the Midgehill bridleway, which incidentally took us eight-years to upgrade some 25-years ago.
At least 20-years ago the local authority, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, placed six bridleway signs along the length of Heron Lane making local riders assume all was well.
In 2007 a developer bought a piece of land straddling the end of Heron Lane with its junction with Wakefield Road, built four houses on it and blocked off riders with beautiful, big gates remotely controlled by the residents – and craftily left a side gate for pedestrians.
The West Penine Bridleways Association challenged the closure to horses only to be told by the Rights of Way Officer that it had been found to be indeed only a public footpath. No action was taken.
No argument was brooked so I went about applying for an upgrade allowed
by the Land and Countryside Act 1981
The local authority faced with overwhelming evidence granted the application but there was an objection which was quashed as inadmissible
But all this took time and in January 2010 we were advised by the local authority that they had put out notices as usual and informed the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol to confirm the order for Heron Lane to be a definitive bridleway
Then all went quiet, which was ominous, and although I queried the delay with the Rights of Way Officer no information was forthcoming.
Mid April I received a letter from Bristol stating that within eight months a Public Inquiry is to be held because of some objection – which was not specified.
On speaking to our Rights of Way Officer, I was baffled when he said he knew nothing of the problem but he’d look into it
As of now, I have no more details, which is a bit of a disgrace
I will, of course, pursue this matter but if/when the order is confirmed the next job will be to have the gates removed and allow free access to all able to use a bridleway. But that will be another battle
So far this has only taken three/four years. One of our upgrades took 12 years. So all is not lost. Yet.
Tony Turner has lived in Greenfield, Saddleworth for over 25-years. He has kept and ridden horses all of that time. He is the author of Horseriding from Saddleworth to Longdendale