03:25AM, Wednesday 05 March 2014
Ramblers have secured a crucial victory in a long battle to get a 'missing link' section of the Thames Path filled - but the fight may not be over yet.
The Royal Borough has agreed to press ahead with creating a riverside path over a 30m stretch next to Bridge Gardens, by Ray Mead Road, Maidenhead, which is currently private land.
The decision was made at a packed rights of way panel meeting last night, despite protests from residents living at the site.
It will see the borough try to negotiate a compensation package with the landowners but if an agreement cannot be reached and objections continue the matter may need to be decided by a public inquiry.
Speaking at the meeting, Mike Landers, who lives in a first-floor flat at the site, said the £350,000 due to be set aside to pay for the project would not be enough and in excess of £2m would be needed to compensate landowners.
He said: "I can ask every one of you here to look at it and tell me, hand on heart, that you do not think it will impact on our privacy and our security."
He added the move would make his home a 'magnet for burglars'.
But, speaking in support of the project, Cllr Malcolm Beer (Ind, Old Windsor) said the issue was a 'national, not a local one' and walkers should already have access to a footpath at the front of the properties where cars are currently parked.
He added: "Can we please resolve this and move forward?
"We have been talking about this for something like 30 or 40 years."
Following private deliberations, approval was given after the panel agreed the situation with the residents could be resolved through negotiation.
Speaking after the meeting, East Berkshire Ramblers member Margaret Bowdery, who has campaigned for decades over the missing link said she hoped an agreement could be reached without the need for a public inquiry.
She added: "The most important thing is the decision to go ahead and we are absolutely delighted with it."
The meeting took place at Maidenhead Town Hall.
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