Walker in bid to get footpath replaced

Pete Orchard on the interrupted footpath near Prodrive, Banbury. NNL-150519-121818009
Pete Orchard on the interrupted footpath near Prodrive, Banbury. NNL-150519-121818009

A walker has complained after officials refused to explain the closure of a footpath to make way for the new Banbury Prodrive building.

Peter Orchard, 73, of Twyford says the footpath was blocked last autumn without any notification or diversion.

He says his letters to Oxordshire County Council have gone unanswered.

“Do they see the footpath as a green line on a map or as a right of way enshrined in law? I believe obstruction of a footpath is illegal,” he said. “Last September or October I walked along it with my dog and there was fencing placed across it. The authorities are supposed to sort out footpaths before building starts. They are well aware of this but nothing seems to be done.”

He added: “I am an ardent walker. I have walked long distance for the past 40 years on footpaths. This is a public right of way and I want the footpath replaced. I’m not trying to attack anyone but it is a public right of way. It was just a field. Now the Prodrive car park has been laid across it.”

Footpaths officer Sarah Aldous said: “Banbury Footpath 58 was obstructed by ground works during the construction of the new Prodrive building. Unfortunately the ground works were not originally foreseen at the planning stage of the development and the temporary closure of the footpath was not therefore discussed and agreed with OCC prior to the works taking place.

“The obstruction was reported to OCC’s Countryside Access Team which hase been working with the developers to get the path reopened and a route has now been waymarked across the site.

“It would not have been safe to enforce the route of the footpath through the site as this would have put the public in danger.”

Future proposals for the site next to the Prodrive building are likely to involve a permanent diversion of the footpath. This will be dealt with by the district council, Ms Aldous said.