A PLANNING inspector has sided with residents embroiled in a long-running dispute with a landowner over a footpath.
Barney Grimshaw, from the Planning Inspectorate, ruled that an unofficial footpath near the River Ure in Redmire could be added to official maps.
North Yorkshire County Council made an order confirming the legality of the route of the path in 2010 after landowner Tony Biker, who owns Mill Farm Barn, a barn conversion near the path, obstructed the route in a bid to encourage people to use a path further away from his property.
Mr Biker appealed against the order, but Mr Grimshaw concluded that there was sufficient evidence from villagers to say that the route had been used as a public footpath for the previous 20 years without anyone objecting, meaning it could become an official right of way.
At a planning inquiry held in Redmire village hall in December, four villagers gave evidence that they had walked along the route for at least the last two decades without being obstructed or challenged.
The current and a former owners of the field which the path runs through also gave evidence, saying they had seen people use the route as per the order.
Arthur Blake, a lawyer acting for Mr Biker, argued that the route of the path on the order was misleading and did not show the actual route used by walkers.
He also claimed that people only used the route near his client's cottage because the correct route, further away from the property, had been blocked.
However, these claims were rejected by Mr Grimshaw.
Local haulier Mr Biker has been involved in a bitter dispute over the footpath and developments at Mill Farm Barn with local residents.
Last year, retrospective planning permission for work on the barn conversion project was refused by planning committee members, despite being recommended for approval.
Redmire Parish Council and several residents had raised concerns about the application.