18 Jul 2008

Hopes for local footpath reopening

An historic track has been uncovered in Stroud that could be opened to residents after an application by Stroud town councillor, Chas Townley. He claims the 800 metre route from Callowell Farm to Stratford Park is a right of way and has found proof on a Georgian map.

Photo: Chas in SNJ this week

He is quoted in the SNJ telling the town council's consultations committee: "The evidence that it's a footpath is beyond question. We're not trying to create a new right of way - we're just making sure it's open to the public. It does provide the opportunity for a short circular walk out of Stratford Park and back. It also provides a more direct link between Stratford Park and Whiteshill."

Cllr Townley told the meeting on Monday June, 30 that he was walking around the park about eight years ago when he saw a padlocked gate blocking a track. He said: "I was intrigued as to why there was a gate there and why it was locked." Then in March he discovered a map of the park while searching for unrelated documents in the county records office. Cllr Townley said the plan from 1821 showed how part of a footpath, which appears to run towards the disputed track, was diverted by the Quarter Sessions. He added that the track was the shortest route to Callowell in the Georgian period.

He went onto be quoted saying: "That's still a legal diversion and no one has done anything about closing the path. Therefore that gate is illegally locked and should be opened up."

But he said the farmer's lawyer had disputed the track was a right of way and had threatened to prosecute him for trespass. The lawyer refused to comment to the SNJ.

Cllr Townley applied to the county council in April for the track to be recorded as an official highway on a definitive map. However the way the County works means he may not know the result for 10 to 15 years. Good on Chas for this - I have emailed him to support his actions. Meanwhile if anybody has further info about this path do please get in touch.

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