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Residents oppose Newmarket footpath closure as Wickes superstore is built

Willie Snaith path
Willie Snaith path

The potential closure of a much used Newmarket footpath and cycle way has got residents on the warpath.The future of the path, which for years has been used as a shortcut to get to Willie Snaith Road, is in doubt following the start of construction work on the neighbouring new Wickes DIY superstore, which is set to be completed by the end of next March.

Path users were first alerted to it possible closure last month when, without warning, a gate appeared along with signs saying the path would be permanently closed from September 15.

Resident Tracy Clarke, who uses the path on a daily basis, contacted the developers while workers at Tesco asked their manager Alistair Thomson to take up the case on their behalf.

Initially, the threat appeared to go away, the sign was removed and the path stayed open but this week more notices were posted announcing it was the intention of the Department of Transport to close the path and anyone with any objections should declare them to the Secretary of State by November 2.

“I have used this path for more than 20 years,” said Tracy. “I can’t see why they want to close it. It will cause a lot of inconvenience for lots of workers who use it on a daily basis to get to Tesco and other offices and businesses on Willie Snaith Road.”

Mr Thomson added: “If the footpath is closed it is going to add a large amount of time to over 100 colleagues’ journey time to work.

“It will also mean that they have to walk a less safe route. We will be sending a letter to the Secretary of State to oppose the closure.”

Accord to the planning application for the new store, which was approved by Forest Heath District Council: “Footpaths are incorporated in the design of the site and are also to be found in the vicinity of the site.”

Mark Tendall, the contract manager for the development, said: “As the builders we wanted to keep the path open as long as we could but the plans for the development show it being permanently closed. The last this we want to is upset the local residents and I am sure there is a solution to be found.”

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