ONE objection to extinguishing a public footpath could cause a school development in Welshpool to be delayed by a year or more.
At a meeting of the Planning, Taxi Licensing and Rights of Way committee on Thursday, July 1 councillors looked at plans to divert a pathway away from the Maesydre school site in Welshpool.
This is because part of it goes through the former Ysgol Maesydre – and former site of Welshpool’s Church in Wales (CIW) primary school.
Maesydre is set to be turned it into a £9million 150-place modern school building for Welsh medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng with half the funding come from the Welsh Government’s 21st Centuries school building programme.
The new path diversion follows an objection by the Open Spaces Society to a stopping up order, agreed by the committee in April which deleted part of footpath B59 which went from the school up to Welshpool bypass.
Following discussions between Powys County Council’s schools service and the society a new route that goes around the southern boundary of the school was agreed.
A fence would be put up to stop people straying onto the campus.
At the meeting Cllr Phil Pritchard who represents the Welshpool Castle ward believed that he could come up with a better diversion, that would leave the school “self-contained.”
He put forward a motion that the proposal be deferred to allow him to speak to staff and come up with a better alternative.
Planning committee solicitor, Colin Edwards said the committee needed to find out what the “implications” of delay would mean, before voting on the deferral.
Countryside access and recreation officer Sian Barnes said: “There have already been significant delays to this programme, this is what the school service want to put forward as their final proposal having tried to negotiate with the objector.
“I appreciate it may seem an oddity that a single objector can have that much weight, but in the public path order process they can.
“A single objector can completely stall the process.
“If we get an objection to an order, unlike a planning application it is not down to the council to decide if it’s relevant or not.
“It has to go to the planning inspectorate and the timescale for a case is a year or more.”
Cllr Linda Corfield, asked: “If we do defer would any 21st centuries schools funding for this be at risk?”
Ms Barnes answered: “The schools service have concluded themselves that having this go to the planning inspectorate could be a significant risk to the project.
“I don’t have details of the funding but it’s something they would have taken into account.”
Cllr Pritchard believed that work on the new school could start before the path issues had been settled.
“I have to be honest with members, if I have to make an objection, I will,” said Cllr Pritchard.
Committee chairman, Cllr Karl Lewis wondered whether it would be possible to pencil in an “extraordinary” committee meeting if the application was deferred.
Cllr Lewis said: “My concern is if the local member (Cllr Pritchard) was to put an objection to this we could be delayed by another year.
“The last thing I want is this school being delayed or losing out on funding.”
Cllr Kathryn Silk said: “Even if it’s illogical to retain the footpath to a spot that nobody will go to, it’s clearly what we have to do.
“If we don’t then it (stopping up order) clearly will be objected to by the Open Space Society.
“It’s completely bonkers but losing the money for the school doesn’t seem a risk worth taking.”
Cllr Silk seconded an amendment to Cllr Pritchard’s motion, put forward by Cllr Roger Williams to agree the diversion.
This vote was taken first and the recommendation was approved with 13 votes for, three against and one abstention.
Straight after the vote Cllr Pritchard asked how he can lodge his objection?
He was told that he would receive an email detailing how to do this.