Batford residents confused over closure of footpath

THE CLOSURE and subsequent reopening of a footpath this week has sparked confusion over who owns it and who had it closed.

When the footpath, which is between Salisbury Road and Lower Luton Road in Batford, was blocked off unexpectedly about a month ago, nearby residents were quick to campaign for it to be opened again.

It was believed to have been closed for safety reasons by a developer named Rockwell London Number One, which was converting a neighbouring old builder’s yard to housing.

The pathway reportedly had a “heavily fixed barrier and padlocked gate” at either end until it was reopened mid afternoon on Monday.

District Cllr Mike Wakely said: “It is a popular residents’ route to the pub, curry house and Batford Springs nature park.”

The footpath is apparently a long established shortcut, with one person believing their mother-in-law had used it for 50 years.

He said residents were “over the moon” when the path was opened again, adding that those apparently responsible had been “totally unapologetic”.

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But it has now transpired that a resident may be accountable for the footpath’s closure.

Roland Burr, of Rockwell London Number One, said: “It’s actually the resident at the top of the street who took action to shut it off.”

He added that Rockwell was not responsible for the reopening of the footpath: “Someone took matters into their own hands.”

After enquiring about the ownership of the land, Roland found out that the footpath was apparently joint owned by the Gibraltar Castle pub on Lower Luton Road and a resident on Salisbury Road.

“It appears that they own it and there is no public right of way.”

Landlord of the Gibraltar Castle, Hamish Miller, said: “The bottom half of it is ours and we’re very happy for it to be open as customers can get to us quicker.”

St Albans district council confirmed they did not own the path and Herts Highways said that is wasn’t maintained or owned by them.

Of the recent developments Roland said: “As far as we’re concerned it’s not our footpath.”

He said that no one was maintaining the path or has worried about it for the last 50 years.

County Cllr Bernard Lloyd said: “I’ve been involved right from the first time it had been blocked from both ends. Unfortunately we found that this particular footpath hadn’t been registered so we couldn’t get enforcement.”

He attributes the success of reopening of the path to Cllr Wakely, adding: “But there needs to be work done, including deciding who owns the footpath definitely.”

Of the path’s origins and ownership he said: “What I can understand from what is being told to me was that a builder who built the houses from number 40 put in the footpath.

“I gather that the residents at 38 and 40 Salisbury Road have not said they own it.”

Those who campaigned for it to be reopened are now trying to get the footpath registered on the definitive map.