Melkridge lonnen row rumbles on
Last updated at 09:33, Wednesday, 21 August 2013
RESIDENTS and farmers are in limbo over the future of a key access route between a South Tynedale village and nearby fields.
Gates went up at both ends of the 50-yard lonnen, between Melkridge and the A69 trunk road during the spring, when the Halbert family, which owns neighbouring Melkridge Hall, claimed ownership of the land.
Last month, Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee approved an application by Melkridge Parish Council for the route to be reinstated as a restricted byway.
But now the county council has warned that the decision has not yet been finalised and won’t be until legal administration procedures have been completed.
There could also be further delays if the Halbert family chooses to appeal against the planning committee’s decision, as the future of the lonnen would then have to be determined by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
Residents and farmers have no idea when, or even if, they will be able to use the lonnen, and a letter to the parish council, from the county’s definitive map officer, John McErlane, has left villagers in the dark.
The letter, which was read during Monday’s parish council meeting, said: “It is envisaged that the route will be included in a definitive map modification order as soon as reasonably practical.
“The decision does not in itself mean that the path has been determined to be a public right of way. It is merely recognition, by the county council, that rights have been reasonably alleged to exist and the matter ought to, therefore, be progressed to the legal order stage.”
Mr McErlane’s letter added that until such an order has been made and confirmed, the lonnen will not be recorded as a right of way.
The county council confirmed this week that even if it is re-opened, vehicular traffic will not be allowed to access the lonnen, because any motor vehicle rights have been extinguished under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Instead, the lonnen would be restricted to walkers, horse riders, cyclists and “non-mechanical vehicles”.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. George Brown said: “From what the letter says, it’s not as clear as it first seemed.”
Chairing the meeting, Coun. Pat Reed said since the lonnen was blocked off, it hadn’t been possible to cut the grass in the neighbouring play and recreation field, because grass cutting equipment required access from the lonnen.
A member of the public attending the meeting said: “Have you seen the lonnen itself now? It has become very overgrown.
“There is evidence of traffic having used the lonnen before, because it was never overgrown, whereas now it is.”
Parish councillors said they would write to the county council, asking for a “keep off” sign to be removed from a separate small grassed area to the south of Melkridge Hall.
In February, the Halbert family said the sign, as well as the lonnen gates, were put up because the area was plagued by poachers, and to keep children safe from a neighbouring stream.
The family approached the county council asking for the triangular-shaped plot of land to be registered as part of their estate, but the council has confirmed it remains part of the public highway.
First published at 07:40, Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
This week in... 1972Friday, December 15, 1972...
STAFF at five hospitals in the Tynedale area walked out during a strike over pay.
Hexham General, Hexham War Memorial, Haltwhistle War Memorial, Wooley Sanatorium and Prudhoe hospitals, were all affected after the National Union of Public Employees called out their members.
Ancillary staff, including porters, cooks, telephone operators and boilermen joined the 12-hour stoppage with some NUPE members taking part in a protest march in Newcastle.