A FOOTPATH is set to be incorporated as a public right of way (PROW) following a ruling by the planning inspector.

The issue of the ginnel between King Street and Old Market Place car park was brought up when Italian restaurant Piccolino applied to build an outdoor dining terrace in the space, leading to Knutsford Town Council seeking to register it as a PROW.

Despite evidence of uninterrupted use as such for the relevant 20-year period and a recommendation to accept the application, it was rejected by a Cheshire East Council committee and the terrace was built.

The town council then appealed to the planning inspector, who ruled in the summer that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the footpath is a PROW.

CEC committee members will be told on Monday that the council has been directed to start the process of adding the footpath to the definitive map.

However, Cllr Tony Dean – who represented the town council at the initial committee meeting in March, says that while the decision is welcome the process is unlikely to be straightforward.

He said: “It’s going to be very difficult to reinstate the footpath now. The structure has actually been built over it, so it will be interesting to see what happens and whether it is taken down.

“It should never have been built in the first place in my view. The decision of the PROW committee was wrong and overturned on appeal, but it makes it very difficult to reinstate it now the building is in place.”

CEC’s Definitive Map Officer Jennifer Tench explained in a report to councillors that a bone of contention involved a public right of way sign, thought to have been covered by ivy for long periods of time.

There is no indication of future action at this stage.

Following the planning inspector’s decision, deputy town clerk Lisa Benskin said: “If the order is confirmed ... then after a six-week advertisement period it is effective.

"If at this stage the PROW continues to be blocked then the section manager would decide what enforcement action should be taken.”

Piccolino was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.