‘It just beggars belief’: Businessman hits out as woodland footpath plans are rejected
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
The founder of a supermarket chain said “it just beggars belief” that he cannot create a footpath in woodland he owns in order to access fields and a barn at the rear.
Chris Kiley wanted to be able to leave his house in Caswell on foot and walk through a short section of Bishop’s Wood to get to his smallholding up the hill.
Swansea Council turned down his application for the 98-metre track – and that decision has now been upheld by a Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector after Mr Kiley appealed.
He said: “You mean, I can’t walk across my own ground to get to my barn? It just beggars belief.”
Mr Kiley, who created and built up the CK’s Supermarket chain, said using the public footpath nearby took him three times as long, with the other option a detour by car up through Bishopston and back down again. But he has accepted the inspector’s decision.
His planning application to the council last year said the proposed track was modest, not readily visible from public vantage points, and that it would blend in with the landscape because plants and grass could grow through it.
The path would have required 12 small to medium-sized trees to be felled, but a tree report submitted as part of the application described them as low or poor quality trees, and that some replacement planting would be needed.
The report also referred to mitigation for excavation work already carried out there.
Mr Kiley’s application led to 156 objections from people who said they felt a strip of woodland in the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) should not be put at risk for one person’s benefit, especially because there was a public footpath so close by.
The council said there was “no reasonable justification or need” for the track, and that its three-metre width – coupled with the loss of 12 trees covered by a woodland tree preservation order – would harm the rural character of the site and fail to conserve the AONB’s natural beauty.
Mr Kiley’s appeal argued that the footpath would enable him to maintain his woodland area as well as providing access to the smallholding, and that the additional planting proposed and removal of invasive species would enhance the wood.
But planning inspector Penelope Davies’s report said it wasn’t clear how a path would help facilitate the woodland’s wider maintenance, and that specific details of additional planting had not been provided.
She said the argument had been put forward about access to the fields, but she concluded: “However, other than the inconvenience of a round trip by road, there is little information that explains why any existing access to the fields or an existing public footpath through the woodland are not suitable.”
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