Eight-year wait for footpath adoption too long

The Bridgewater Canal
The Bridgewater Canal
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An eight-year wait - and possibly longer - is being faced by countryside campaigners wanting to get a new borough footpath adopted.

The delay emerged following a Planning Inspectorate ruling on an outstanding application by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society for a fresh route near the Bridgewater Canal in Leigh.

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Society members were informed it would take eight years for their bid not least because of a backlog, for land behind Hall House Lane and Sanderson’s Croft, to be resolved.

But a planning inspector has decided the time estimate is too lengthy and has ordered Wigan Council to determine the application within 12 months.

However if any future plans are not deemed a high enough priority, supporters of any new schemes could face waits stretching to 2026 and beyond.

An appeal hearing was told that the council had 20 outstanding applications to determine - with the canal plans ranked at number 16.

And with the authority expecting to investigate and come to a decision on just two projects per year, this prompted a probable eight-year wait.

Wigan Council officials argued that there were no “special circumstances” with the Leigh scheme which would merit it be considered “out of turn”.

And responding to the ruling, a local authority spokesman said: “We have noted the inspector’s decision and will be complying with the 12 months’ notice.

“We aim to complete two requests each year and always accommodate them where we can.

“Unfortunately due to the length of time an application takes it can be a long process.”