Flitch Way Action Group says project to reconnect walking route is in jeapardy

PUBLISHED: 08:44 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:44 20 March 2019

Plans to reconnect popular walking route the Flitch Way have been afoot for many years.

Plans to reconnect popular walking route the Flitch Way have been afoot for many years.

Archant

An action group dedicated to reconnecting a popular walking and cycling route has accused a landowner of potentially 'jeopardising' the project, which has been in the making for a decade.

Since the Flitch Way, which stretches for 15 miles between Bishop’s Stortford and Braintree, was severed in Dunmow by the creation of the B1256, members of the community and the Flitch Way Action Group have been hoping to reconnect the route.

Now, the action group is arguing that Siemens Benefit Scheme (SBS), which owns the land, is potentially ‘jeopardising’ the plan by preventing Essex County Council from creating a bridleway on land south of Stortford Road in Dunmow.

An application is currently lodged with Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeking permission for more than 400 news homes on the site.

The application, submitted by developer Keir Living and SBS, also includes an agreement for about 35 acres to be safeguarded for education use. In a letter to UDC, addressing the application, the Flitch Way Action Group wrote: “SBS is the only landowner to object to the Flitch Way Connection project. They have prevented ECC from creating the necessary section of the bridleway running east from Buttleys Lane by lodging an objection to the proposed creation order. At best they have delayed and at worst they have jeopardised the entire project.”

The action group described the proposed bridleway as “vital” and said that as well as reconnecting the Flitch Way, it would travel through housing developments and provide a “non-motorised link into the town and school”.

The action group said: “If the planning committee are minded to permit this development we ask that they first require Siemens to withdraw their objection to this bridleway creation scheme.”

The letter added: “The Flitch Way has been partially destroyed because the planning committee at the time failed to protect it for the communities that it represented. The comment is not intended to be critical...but demonstrates what can happen if the community voice is not given adequate weight.”

A trustee from SBS, a pension scheme independent of Siemens’ companies, said: “When the bridleway proposal was put to us in 2015 we requested details on how we would be affected by the proposal and we are still in 2019 waiting for a response from Essex County Council. Once our request is addressed we will reconsider our objection.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “The public path creation order has been referred to the planning inspector for determination.” by due process. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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