In between Bluebell Croft and Church Street lies a public footpath, said to have been given as a gift to the people of Butt Lane by the Delves family many years ago. The path is well used by dog walkers, cyclists and school children. Until recently the path was seen as a safe passage from West Avenue to Congleton Road.
Following the developers installing a fence on their side of the footpath, damage has been caused to the concrete panels that stretch along the public side of the path. Some of the damaged posts have metal wire protruding, leading to walkers being scratched as they walk past. In parts, the concrete panels have completely come away from the posts and have become a severe tripping hazard. During the developer’s installation of wooden panels on their development, drilling into the ground has caused bowing of the concrete panels on the public footpath. Parents are now refusing to let their children use this route to school for fear of the panelling collapsing altogether. The ground has also sunk in parts causing a severe trip hazard. Councillors are now calling on Taylor Wimpey to foot the bill to repair the footpath. Funding could be obtained via a 106 agreement, but all options are being considered.
Not only has the shoddy job been an issue for occupants of Church Street but residents of Bluebell croft are also concerned. The concrete panels are an easy step up to the wooden panels which could be a security issue for the backs of new homes. It seems loose pieces of barbed wire has been attached to certain posts to try and stop any unwanted intruder but the wire can easily be removed.
Local resident, Linda Smith said: “I am not happy about what has been done here at all. We have a right to access this footpath and feel safe but instead we have been left with a dangerous mess. Whilst the residents of Bluebell croft get a brand spanking new fence, we are left with the mess and damage caused by the developer. This wasn’t like this until they put that new wooden fence in. It’s a complete disgrace.”
Town Councillor, Sylvia Dymond said: “It simply isn’t good enough that developers can walk into our communities and do whatever they want. Why did the developer remove the concrete panels at the beginning of the path and then stop half way up? Was it because they wanted to make the front of their new development look lovely and then leave the residents of Church Street with a mess and fence us out? Some local people have described the divide as the Berlin Wall and I am not surprised. I am no NIMBY, I just want to be treated fairly in a community I have lived in for years.”
A Newcastle Borough Council planning officer emailed:
“Dear Councillor Robinson, further to our meeting at the Taylor Wimpey, Blue Bell Croft site (West Avenue 11/00237.OUT) on the 18th September 2013 I have been in contact with Paul Rochfort, a County Council Rights of Way Officer, about the issues you raised regarding the Public Right of Way (Kidsgrove (Talke) 16).He detailed that the County had acted on a complaint in March/ April regarding similar issues. This lead to the ranger removing any dangerous material (concrete gravel boards). He detailed that he would ask the ranger to remove any other dangerous materials.
Residents are now calling on Taylor and Wimpey to put the damage right and fix the panels or take them out altogether. The Town Council are due to discuss the issue on Thursday 19th December and will hopefully make a formal complaint to the developer of Bluebell Croft copying in Newcastle Borough Council Planning Department.