A CAMPAIGN to register a public footpath in Grotton could be drawing to a close after two-and-a-half years.
A modification order has been granted by Oldham Council for a route running over a parcel of land between The Meadows and Bridleway 194.
Residents and walkers argued the path has been used as a right of way for more than half a century and submitted 26 evidence forms in support of their case.
They said a sign indicating ‘private land’ had been erected only recently by the landowner on the site.
The group has challenged the validity under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Oldham Council’s Traffic Regulations Order panel has recommended a modification order be introduced.
A 42-day public consultation was due to end for representations and objections as the Independent went to press.
If no objections have been raised the order will be formally confirmed. If there are the Order will be referred to the Secretary of State for consideration.
A panel report stated: “It is uncertain when this (the sign) first appeared but the sign has only appeared recently.
“There have been at least 20 years use of the application route by the persons who completed evidence forms before the sign appeared.
“A number have commented about the current owners having challenged people using the application route in the months prior to the application being made.”
Michael Wild, who submitted the application, said: “The process to register the path started back in May 2018.
“It was the first time I’ve been involved in this type of claim, which turned out to be a far more complex process than I imagined.
“I was advised and guided by John Walton from Ramblers Association and would like to express my thanks for his invaluable help.
“We have residents who had been using this pathway for over 50 years so hopefully they will soon be able to do so again.”
Richard Darlington, a Grotton resident and member of Saddleworth Parish Council said: “I first walked this path in 1994 soon after we moved to Grotton.
“I could walk for an hour up as far as Scouthead and back without crossing a main road.
“There are other residents in this area who have used the access path from The Meadows for many more years than myself.
“It did not occur to us that it needed to be registered as an official Right of Way until the owner decided to fence it off two or so years ago.”