A BID to dedicate a King Street cut-through as a public footpath has been voted down by the borough council.
The area of land next to Piccolino’s was brought into question in September 2015, when the restaurant fenced off the cut-through between King Street and the Old Market Place car park.
Last May, the restaurant owners applied for planning permission to build an outdoor terrace on the land, prompting Knutsford Town Council to apply for the historic ginnel to become a public right of way.
At a public rights of way committee on Monday, councillors heard representations from both parties and were presented with an officer’s recommendation to adopt the route as a public footpath, but voted by four to one with one abstention against allowing the council’s request.
A spokesman for Piccolino’s owners Individual Restaurants said: “We were always confident this wasn’t a public right of way and we have worked closely with the local council and the community to ensure all the necessary measures are properly in place.
“We are pleased the decision went in our favour and are looking forward to opening our terrace, which we believe will benefit the community and the local economy.”
The officer’s report, and representation from Cllr Tony Dean on behalf of the town council, presented testimony from more than a dozen witnesses who claimed to have used the cut through as a footpath for 20 years or more - the legal test for adding public footpaths - backdated from 2015.
Committee members were left to decide whether the footpath had been used without the landowner having intended to ‘dedicate it’ as otherwise.
On the balance of probabilities they decided that the signs on one wall of the ginnel, which had been covered with ivy for at least part of the 20-year period and only noticed by two of those who gave evidence, constituted evidence of the landowners’ intentions.
The town council’s environment committee will decide whether to appeal on Monday.
A report by deputy town clerk Lisa Benskin recommends appealing the decision ‘based on the fact that the reasoning given by the committee for their decision does not accord with the evidence before them’.