Footpaths bid to scupper new M5 services at Brookthorpe
FOOTPATHS could yet put the boot into a new £40million motorway services at Brookthorpe, claim campaigners fighting the controversial scheme.
Protests about three public rights of way being diverted to make way for the massive 70 acre development at Onger's Farm now mean there will have to be a public inquiry.
The hearing could take a year to be organised, held and a decision announced, said Eric Hibbert, chairman of Brookthorpe with Whaddon Parish Council, which is one of nine objectors to the diversions.
"They are absolutely essential to the scheme really," Mr Hibbert said.
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"If you take it to its logical conclusion they would probably find some way around it. But it would have serious consequences and could take 12 months."
Mr Hibbert said 98 per cent of Brookthorpe parishioners had voted against the Gloucestershire Gateway and Westmorland idea for petrol stations, cafes and car and lorry parks on Onger's green fields. A 1,000-name petition earlier opposed the services because people believed the beautiful local landscape would be ruined by noise and extra traffic.
But the services gained permission from Stroud District Council in August 2010 and later the authority also agreed that the three paths could be diverted.
"The councillors were happy with the diversions but because there are objections effectively it goes straight to appeal," the council's head of planning Phil Skill said.
"They have to be moved because the paths are crossing where vehicles will be driving at 70mph on the acceleration and deceleration lanes," Mr Skill said.
"This is more about where the diversions will go. The fact that they have to be moved has already been considered," he said.
Westmorland's head of marketing Claire Logan-Stephens said the plan to divert the footpaths was known at the time the original planning was decided. "We are now following normal legal procedures in order to facilitate development works," she said.