Campaigners win 14-year footpath battle with Harrow School
Footpath campaigners are claiming victory in a 14-year access battle with a top public school.
A government planning inspector ruled against Harrow School, which wanted to divert two public rights of way that cross its playing fields.
At a six-day public inquiry, inspector Alison Lea turned down the fee-paying school’s proposals to move the paths on its 300-acre grounds in north-west London.
Campaigners said the paths have been used for centuries and the diversions would have created inferior routes to the existing rights of way.
The Open Spaces Society, which joined the Ramblers and the Harrow Hill Trust in fighting the school’s plans said Harrow School obstructed the footpath with tennis courts surrounded by fencing in 2003. For nine years, the school even padlocked the gates across another section of the path but reopened them following pressure from the objectors, it said.
The objectors argued that Harrow Council should make the school reopen the path, as required by law, but instead the local authority agreed with the school to move the path around the obstructions.
The school applied to move a second path to a zigzag route to avoid the current layout of its sports pitches.
Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and footpath secretary of the Ramblers Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex area, said: “It has taken local people 14 years of strenuous campaigning against the might of Harrow School to save these footpaths, with their splendid views and sense of purpose.