Campaigners in Tadcaster were thrilled to have an interim planning decision ruled in their favour, after months of waiting to hear if their footpath would be re-opened.
After a public inquiry was concluded in February this year, the planning inspector has now announced the footpath will be subject to alignment modification, meaning that a popular public way has been positively identified on the land.
As a result it is more likely that the footpath will be re-opened to the public in the future, on the basis that there is extensive evidence of its use by people who live in or visit the area.
Patrick Tunney, campaigner and action group leader, said: “We are delighted without any hesitation, that the inspector has found in our favour.
“I wont call it a victory but it is a massive step towards re-opening.”
When the popular public footpath between Wighill Lane and the viaduct in Tadcaster was closed off by believed land-owners, Samuel Smith Brewery, in late 2011, people in the community were up in arms. Campaigning began almost immediately, with a petition sent around the area for locals to show their support in re-opening the route.
Overwhelming support has been consistently shown from residents in the area, with 264 evidence of use forms sent to North Yorkshire County Council - more than they have ever received for any other planning matter before.
Mr Tunney was very grateful to the nearly 400 people who have shown their support throughout the process and to the council which he said were “unanimously in our favour”.
Despite the ruling, it is still likely that even if a final decision is made to re-open the path again, that it will not be open for a long time to come.
Mr Tunney estimated that it would take about four weeks before the planning committee advertise their interim decision, as they are requred, and another eight weeks of consultation.
In addition to this, if any objections are made over the interim decision, then the planning inspector will have to consider the case again meaning it will take even longer to reach a conclusion.
Mr Tunney feels it is unlikely there will be a decision made earlier than November.
However he said: “When we started this whole process, we understood that it would be long. We are taking it one step at a time, we have to be patient and allow the law to work it’s way through.
Samuel Smith’s Brewery was contacted by the Wetherby News but did not provide a comment.