Pedestrians stuck on 'dangerous' road after landowner's protest

Paul Whitehouse

ONE landowner has been standing in the way of plans to create a new footpath and bridleway to link two communities straddling the South Yorkshire and Derbyshire border.

Councillors from Sheffield and Derbyshire have been asking for the route, which would link Killamarsh and Halfway, to be built, and officials have secured agreement from all but one of the landowners who would be affected.

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Talks have failed to reach an agreement because the company involved is concerned that the bridleway and footpath might affect its own plans to develop its land, although the land is designated an “area of natural history interest” on Sheffield’s development plan.

That status would cause difficulties in any attempt to secure planning permission for development.

Now Sheffield councillors are being asked to authorise legal moves to go ahead with the plan using powers under the Highways Act 1980 because the route is regarded as necessary.

Under that legislation, the landowner may be entitled to compensation for the new route crossing their property, and money has already been set aside to cover that.

The scheme has won support from agencies including the Big Lottery Fund and the public transport organisation Sustran, which means there is now a total of 1.3m available for the project.

A report to Sheffield Council warns: “There is a risk that the landowner may request a compensation sum greater than that which is reasonable, which would be resolved at a tribunal.”

If councillors agree and there are no objections to the legal process it will go ahead, but if the landowner objects it will have to be referred to the Secretary of State to be determined.

The new bridleway is regarded as necessary because Station Road, the B6058, which links the two communities, is busy with traffic, including a high proportion of lorries.

A report explains: “The new bridleway will allow local people to walk and cycle between Halfway and Killamarsh and to and from Halfway tram stop, therefore contributing to the reduction of vehicular traffic and the associated impacts of congestion and emissions. The Route will also be very much safer to use than the existing road.”

When figures were compiled in 2006, around 120 pedestrians and 40 cyclists used the route daily in the 12 hours from 7am, despite what the council describes as “dangerous” conditions.

The report states: “Councillors from both North East Derbyshire and South East Sheffield have made longstanding requests to resolve the difficulties and danger faced by people on foot and bicycle in using Station Road.

“Widening the existing road bridges on the B6058 would be prohibitively expensive and not address the safety problems elsewhere along the road.

“The existing footways on Station Road are not suitable for wheelchair or mobility scooter users, or people with other mobility or sensory impairments, due to their inadequate width and lack of safety crossings.

“Landowners affected by the proposed Halfway-Killamarsh route have been consulted and all, with the exception of one, are supportive of the Council’s proposal to develop a new multi-user route across the required section of their land.”

The landowner not in agreement had concerns because they “consider that the conditions imposed on their prospective planning consent restrict their ability to develop their land,” according to the report.

“Officers have corresponded with the landowner over the course of the last year or so to attempt to negotiate agreement for the bridleway route on the site, but no agreement has been reached.”