A FENCE erected on an ancient right of way used for over 800 years has been taken down and a planning application withdrawn after huge protests.

Residents Diana and Kevin Foster whose home is next to the path said they had always wanted to preserve the old right of way and they had put up the fence on the old lane at East Harlsey , near Northallerton, to deter the hunt and determine the footpath to stop vehicles using it.

They added: "This followed a family incident where our grandchildren witnessed their pet dog being run over and killed on a similar narrow footpath in the village. They were and still are traumatised by this event. For years we have been contacting North Yorkshire’s footpath team regarding the maintenance of the footpath and whose responsibility it was to repair the dilapidated gates at both ends of the footpath running alongside our house.

"However they were not interested in addressing the issue so we then contacted the village parish council who again could not  offer much support but at that time we did discuss replacing the gates and  erecting a fence and no objection was made."

Concerned residents in the village started an online petition which has been signed by 2,700 people. They objected after the fence was erected and a planning application for an extension submitted which they feared would affect the path.

Mrs Foster said: "Since the fence was erected we have noticed a lot more walkers using it and have had several positive comments about its appearance. Within weeks of erecting the fence we were served notice to remove it. This is ironic given we have been contacting NYCC for years with no response. We have tried to enter into  dialogue with NYCC on several occasions. We recently contacted NYCC again to request clarification about the intended use of the footpath and whether vehicular access is allowable but again we are awaiting their response. 

The Northern Echo:

"Reluctantly we have complied with the enforcement order and have had the fence removed so that the footpath is restored to its full width. However we are very  concerned about the stated intention by various parties to use the footpath going forward to  access land with their service  vehicles given the damage this will cause to this ancient lane which was not built for modern vehicles. We are also very concerned about the significant safety risk this will impose on ourselves as residents and other walkers who walk their dogs along it."

Mrs Foster said the planning application which has now been withdrawn was not a kitchen extension but was for an outhouse which would extend no further than the current porch.