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Right of stray; Legal surprise for Huddersfield householders.

Byline: By JOANNE DOUGLAS News Reporter

DOZENS of people in part of Huddersfield have been surprised to find they have a public right of way straight through their living rooms.

Some residents living around The Ghyll, The Fairway and Viewlands at Fixby did not know a right of way ran through part of the modern housing estate.

It means that people have the legal right to knock on the doors of about 12 properties and walk through them.

It is because the right of way was never officially re-directed when the houses were built.

Kirklees councillors are now planning to re-route it, but one councillor wants to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Clr Martyn Bolt is calling for a change to planning rules and is backed by residents.

Susan Dedacott, 58, rents a house on The Fairway with husband David.

She said: "I had no idea about the right of way. We've not lived here long and I certainly don't want someone turning up on my doorstep telling me they have the right to walk through the house.

"There needs to be some sort of protection for residents. If someone were to walk in - exercising their legal rights - and steal something it would surely invalidate our insurance because they'd entered legally.

"I agree we need to protect our rights of ways and countryside, but if the local authority approve these developments they need to make sure everything is resolved and if it's not do something about it."

Alan Booth, 48, said: "I was aware of the issue several years ago but was under the impression it had all been resolved.

"I think it's just a formality of officially diverting the right down past Viewlands. I honestly don't think anyone would expect to just walk through someone's house."

Clr Bolt said: "One of the housing areas which was built many years ago has rights of way all across the land as it was never diverted by the developer.

"As it stands, someone could knock on their doors with definitive maps and have the right to walk straight through their lounge.

"Around Bradford Road and Fixby Road there could be 40 or 50 houses in this predicament.

"All it needs is one walker to point out what the law is and while these homeowners can say no they are doing it illegally."

Clr Bolt wants councillors to impose a condition of approval on the developers to re-direct rights of ways or public footpaths.

A Kirklees spokeswoman said powers exist under planning and highways Acts for the council to stop or divert paths and bridleways. But in some cases it is considered unreasonable, as it would require a developer to act outside his control.

The spokeswoman added: "The grant of planning permission does not entitle a developer to obstruct a public right of way.

Development should not start until the necessary order for diversion or extinguishment of the right of way has been granted.

"If Clr Bolt is aware of historic instances where footpaths and bridleways have not been properly diverted he should bring them to the attention of the council's public rights of way officer, who can then take appropriate action.

"If Clr Bolt wishes to pursue his suggestion further he should raise it with the council Cabinet's member for regeneration, who will take the appropriate advice and decide if action is needed."

CAPTION(S):

Historic routes through Fixby; Some of the affected streets SURPRISE: The three neighbouring roads where houses have a right of way straight through them
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2009
Words:588
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