Homes plan spells last walkies for Wheathampstead dog owner

THIRTY years of walking her dog from the back of her garden look likely to come to an end for an unhappy villager.

The house occupied by Christine Field, 71, of Butterfield Road, Wheathampstead, originally backed on to the village secondary school and latterly an education centre.

But the site is now being developed with nearly 70 properties by Charles Church Homes and Christine has been told that the land on which she walks her Golden Retriever, Chippy, will be part of a buffer zone between the old and new properties and she will no longer be able to access it from the gate in her back garden.

Hoardings have already gone up close to the gate which Christine installed so she could take her dogs for a walk and she has been told that there will be a three-metre buffer zone between the gardens of the new properties and her home so she will no longer be able to use her back gate.

Christine said: “I have been walking from my back gate to the fields for over 30 years.

“When I moved in it was school playing fields and I knew everyone there. No-one has ever challenged me before.”

She pointed out that it would not affect the new gardens if she continued to walk Chippy along there and added: “The developers have upset all the residents enough with their housing scheme. I find it quite unreasonable not to have a little walkway to use.”

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But Jon Regent, deputy managing director for Charles Church Thames Valley, said that prior to purchasing the land from the county council for its Wheathampstead development, they had established there were no legal third party access rights affecting the site.

He went on: “As part of the planning process we undertook consultation with local residents and the local authority and it was agreed that a three to four metre buffer zone of trees would be created around the perimeter of the development in order to screen the development from neighbouring properties.

“We understand the frustrations Mrs Field has expressed but, unfortunately, the alleged access point from the rear of her house was never legally recognised by Hertfordshire County Council or Charles Church and the provision of the buffer zone in perpetuity physically prevents Mrs Field direct access to the nearby playing fields from her back garden.”

He stressed that the playing fields were still accessible to all residents along the public footpath via the main access from Butterfield Road, a distance of around 200 metres.