Anger as residents barred from using access to Blackpool's Marton Mere nature reserve
The closure of an access path to a Blackpool beauty spot has sparked anger among residents who say they have used the route for decades and were assured the access would be preserved.
Bosses at Marton Mere Holiday Village have put up fencing and locked gates prohibiting people from using a footpath from Kipling Drive through the caravan site to the Marton Mere nature reserve.
A retrospective planning application has been submitted to Blackpool Council seeking permission for the change which was made after 31 new caravans were added to the site.
Park bosses say they decided to shut the walkway after a number of break-ins.
But people living nearby say the original path has been used for more than 30 years and are now applying for it to be made a public right of way.
They claim the alternative path is 'not fit for purpose'.
Zena Bradshaw, of Kipling Drive, who is leading the campaign for the original path to be re-opened to the public, said: "When they got permission to extend the site with 31 caravans, they said they would maintain the original access.
"But they have gone back on their word and closed off the path. This is another case of local residents being shunned for large corporations.
"We have had access to this land for decades and now it is being taken away from us when it was promised to be maintained."
Residents including from Kipling Drive, Meadowbrook and Lawnswood Crescent are among those who have formally objected to the planning application to re-route the path.
Margaret Watt said: "The path in question has been used for decades to gain access to Marton Mere nature reserve..
"The new 'temporary' path is not fit for purpose. It is not level, it floods and it is quite narrow in places."
Mark Sirkett said he had used the path for about 30 years to access Marton Mere.
He said: "Although not happy with the new development I was pleased to see the upgraded right of way through the site last summer."
He added that "unfortunately, this pleasure was not long lasting" as the right of way was closed "and a temporary, redirected, poorly constructed path put in to circumnavigate the site."
Zena, 27, who is a nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, added: "I've now applied to the council to make the path through the caravan park a public right of way.
"I'm gathering evidence from residents to prove it has been used for more than 20 years."
A spokesperson for Marton Mere Holiday Village said the original path had been closed to prevent crime including break-ins at the caravans.
They added: “The path has been closed recently as it passed directly through the construction site for new caravans being sited at the holiday village and it would have been unsafe for members of the public to walk through.
"An alternative constructed path to Marton Mere of a similar distance has been provided by us to ensure access is still easily obtainable for pedestrians and dog walkers.
“In the longer-term, we have applied to the council for this alternative path around the perimeter of the holiday village to be the new permanent access route down to Marton Mere.
"Last year we experienced a significant number of anti-social incidents, including a number of caravan break-ins, occurring from people using the path to access the holiday village for unlawful purposes.
"We are committed to ensuring local people can continue to access the nature reserve in an enjoyable and safe manner.”
When planning permission was granted for the extension to the caravan park, a council report said while the scheme meant the loss of "approximately 25 per cent of an area of open land identified as meeting community needs", this would be offset by "the preservation of the pedestrian routes from Kipling Drive and Cornwall Place to Marton Mere."