Anger over couple’s bid to divert footpath

CHANGING LANES: Bill and Jenny Armit have seen stiff opposition to their application to divert a footpath that runs through their garden.
CHANGING LANES: Bill and Jenny Armit have seen stiff opposition to their application to divert a footpath that runs through their garden.
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A Stanstead couple’s efforts to divert a footpath which runs through their garden have been met with objections from some villagers.

Bill and Jenny Armit submitted an application to Babergh District Council to reroute a 65-metre section of a footpath, which runs from Lower Street, around the garden of their home on The Hill in August due to concerns about the behaviour of dog walkers and their pets in their garden.

Stanstead Parish Council, on which Mr Armit was a councillor at the time, objected to the plan in November. Four councillors subsequently resigned in January and Mr Armit stood down a month later.

The parish council was invited to reconsider its recommendation by Nick Elliott, a footpaths officer at the district council, after he noted that the Ramblers Association and rights of way officers had no objections.

At Thursday’s parish council meeting, Mr Elliott and Sharon Berr, rights of way officer at Mid Suffolk District Council, explained the process and deliberations.

Mr Elliott said: “The order for diversion was made on May 15 and advertised so people can comment during a consultation period ending on June 12.”

He said if there are no outstanding objections after this period, Babergh’s development committee can confirm the order. Otherwise, the committee will refuse it or pass it on to a planning inspector, who will decide whether to approve or deny the application.

Mr Elliott explained that tests used to judge the application were whether it was in the interests of the owner and public and whether changes would affect public enjoyment.

“It will not set a precedent for other plans as every footpath application is considered on its own merit,” he said.

Several of the 30 residents present expressed their concerns about the plan.

Peter Coxhill said: “The Ramblers Association didn’t ask Stanstead Walkers. We have walked this path for years.”

Frank Wilson added: “That path has been there for more than 100 years.”

Mr Armit said he had gathered a petition of 23 names in favour of the plan.

“It would be exactly the same length of the walk and the Ramblers confirmed it would be at least equal to, if not better than the current amenity,” he said.

The parish council voted unanimously to reiterate its objections to the plans.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Armit said: “I’m very disappointed with the superficiality of the decision. I was given little opportunity to say anything.”