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‘It just beggars belief’: Businessman hits out as woodland footpath plans are rejected

01 Feb 2022 3 minute read
Bishop’s Wood. Photo via Google

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.

Public footpath

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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Evan Aled Bayton
1 year ago

Perhaps tree felling is a sore point in Swansea after Mr Sauro felled so many trees and an iconic redwood at Penllegar. Why any trees at all were allowed to be felled there is another question when the Welsh Government is permitting tree planting in farmland.

1 year ago

If he doesn’t like the other path, that is literally 10 metres away, I respectfully suggest he moves house to another area and takes his helicopter and quad bikes with him.

He won’t be missed.

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
1 year ago

3 metres wide? That’s not a path, that’s a road.

1 year ago

Would he let us walk on his path………His Own path?
Time for Cymru to have Everyman’s Right as in Scandia!

1 year ago

“You mean, I can’t walk across my own ground to get to my barn? It just beggars belief.”

But he’s not being prevented from walking across his own ground.
And a one meter wide track is a footpath, three meters wide could accommodate vehicles.

1 year ago

He must be an exceptionally wide man to need a foot path 3m wide. It sounds a lot more like a track for vehicles – unless he’s making access for someone with a disability then his outrage doesn’t ring true. Would he even need planning permission if all he was doing was putting a little gravel down to stop it getting muddy, and leaving the trees be?

1 year ago
Reply to  Beb

A 3m path? That just happens to lead straight to that big “barn”? Where he keeps his helicopter? And where he wanted a landing strip for light aircraft? Does he really think people are that stupid?
The answer is of course – YES!

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