Housebuilder closes off popular footpaths on the edge of Harborough without any warning

Council officers have now instructed Taylor Wimpey to urgently reopen the paths

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:14 am
Walker Peter Pollack is prevented from walking any further on the Wellington Place site. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

An outraged outdoors campaigner has blasted a housebuilding developer for suddenly closing off popular footpaths on the edge of Market Harborough leading out into the countryside without any warning.

Peter Pollak, 75, slammed Taylor Wimpey after the big national developer shut down well-used routes on the town’s new Wellington Place estate without putting up any signs or notices.

The lifelong rambler hit the warpath as it emerged that the housebuilder also failed to tell Leicestershire County Council they were fencing off the paths to carry out urgent drainage work.

Walker Peter Pollack is prevented from walking any further on the Wellington Place site. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Council officers have now instructed Taylor Wimpey to urgently reopen the paths after they were alerted by Peter to the problem, as well as by other furious residents and walkers.

The company has now apologised today to everyone “affected” as they vowed to reopen the paths “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

Today Peter, of Farndon Fields, Market Harborough, told the Harborough Mail: “I am so angry about this.

“I can’t believe that Taylor Wimpey have done this – it’s so irresponsible and inconsiderate.

Walker Peter Pollack is prevented from walking any further on the Wellington Place site. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“I’m almost lost for words, it’s simply jaw-dropping.”

The local representative for the 156-year-old Open Spaces Society, the UK’s oldest national conservation body, he leapt into action after being tipped off about the shocking “unofficial closure”.

“I went along there and found the path at Wellington Place shut last week after another incensed walker got in touch with me.

“He was very upset because he said that he and his friend walk there regularly and were staggered to find their trails closed all of a sudden,” said Peter, a retired insurance surveyor.

“The paths that have been shut are right at the heart of a whole network of trails on the sprawling new estate at Wellington Place still being built on the northern outskirts of our town.

“They have been cordoned off to the public using Heras fence panels used by the builders.

“The path snakes on from Wellington Place and leads out past Owen Way heading for Lubenham - and also branches off towards Gartree Prison.

“There are no notices being displayed at the closures, legal or otherwise, so I can only assume that they were simply closed off by the builders overnight,” said Peter.

“This sort of arbitrary action blocking off our beautiful environment is totally unacceptable.

“These footpaths are very well used by both walkers and runners.

“We all know now how vital it is to get out into the Great Outdoors – for both our physical health and mental health.

“That’s especially so now following on from all the tough lockdowns we had during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Here in Market Harborough we’re all surrounded by stunning countryside.

“And we have every right to venture out and enjoy that countryside day in day out,” insisted Peter.

“Summarily closing down footpaths without warning the county council, the public or anyone else is a very slippery slope to go down.

“And I’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure that this sort of sorry episode doesn’t happen again in my neck of the woods and on my patch in Harborough.”

Apologising for their actions, a Taylor Wimpey spokesperson told the Mail: “We apologise to those affected by the temporary diversion of public footpaths at Wellington Place.

“These diversions have been put in place due to a number of health and safety reasons and the alternative routes will be fully sign-posted for public use within the next few days.”

They added: “As soon as it is safe to do so, the footpaths will be fully re-opened.”

A Leicestershire County Council spokeswoman told the Mail: “We were made aware of this unofficial closure by local residents and the area rights of way inspector contacted the developers and instructed them to reopen the path.

“A representative of the developer informed us that it was necessary to close the path at short notice to enable essential drainage works to be carried out.”

She added: “The representative has apologised for the inconvenience and has pledged to reopen the path as soon as possible.”