October 3, 2022

Struggling neighbors have been locked in an 18-year battle over a footpath after a landowner put up “private property” signs to deter hikers from using it.

Ellen Salton, 56, has been involved in a row since the posting of the signs to prevent local residents from accessing a popular forest in Tredomen, near Hengoed, South Wales, in 2004.

But her neighbor Susan Smith, 74, applied to Caerphilly County Borough Council in 2019 to make the footpath public after using it because she was only a girl to access the bluebells.

She told city officials, “We are determined not to lose this footpath because we only have one left.”

An application for a right-of-way was first made in 2005, before being resubmitted by Ms Smith in 2017 when the original applicant left the area.

The local government then declared it a new public right-of-way in 2019 under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

But Ms. Salton has appealed the decision, insisting there is a “conspiracy” against her.

An urban planning study is now underway to determine whether the path can remain open to the public.

Local residents gather to show their support for the trail in Tredomen, near Hengoed, South Wales that remains a public right of way

The trail leads to a popular local bluebell that is regularly used by local residents in the area

The council declared the path a new public right of way in 2019 under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Fellow neighbor Diana Tura said the forest the trail leads to is an area she describes as her “sanctuary.”

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She said, “All the people in Tredomen just want to keep what we have, that’s all.”

An investigation has now been launched led by Planning and Environment Decisions Wales.

But Ms. Salton insists there is no clear path ever used by local residents.

Andy Dunlop, Ms Salton’s representative, said no ‘proper investigation’ had been conducted before the council declared it a new public right-of-way in 2019.

He argues: ‘This order should not have been given if a thorough investigation had taken place.’

Planning inspector Janine Townsley now has to decide whether the path has been used for at least 20 years before 2002 without “violence, secrecy or consent.”

The trail has been closed for the past four years while the appeals process was underway.

A decision will now be made by officials after an investigation is conducted.