THE owners of an Uddingston care home have won a long-running battle to close a footpath which will allow them to build an extension to their complex.
Neighbouring residents are also savouring victory after a Scottish Government reporter ruled the path should not be diverted.
Balmer Developments got planning permission for a new 30-bed unit next to its Croftbank House facility in Old Mill Road in May last year.
The two-storey building will be on the site of the former doctors’ surgery, but can’t go ahead unless the path linking Old Mill Road with Simpson Court and Crofthead Street is closed off.
South Lanarkshire Council drew up an order to close the path and divert it, but this prompted objections about the loss of a well-used path and claims that the diverted route would be unsafe.
Now, after taking evidence at an inquiry, reporter Ronald Jackson says the path can be closed, but not diverted.
Croftbank House has 69 beds and Balmer Care Homes say the new two-storey building will add 30 beds and create another 50 full and part-time jobs.
Giving his ruling, Mr Jackson said: “It is not disputed that the existing footpath is a well-established public route, but apart from use by anti-social elements, the evidence of the actual volume of use is vague and contradictory.
“In view of this and the additional care provision and economic benefits that would flow from the construction of the new care home, I am satisfied that any inconvenience caused by having to walk an extra 35 metres or so is insufficient to outweigh the benefits.”
Mr Jackson accepted that the police have had to be called on ‘numerous’ occasions to deal with disturbances and vandalism in the area.
He added: “I share the concerns of nearby residents that the proposed diversion, with its blind corners, would only exacerbate the present situation. It would create a more secluded space for undesirable elements to congregate.”
Mr Jackson said the ‘most sensible’ route between Old Mill Road and Simpson Court is via Croftbank Crescent which is already used by the public.
Several nearby residents gave evidence at the inquiry. Some said the existing path is a useful short cut while others claimed it is a magnet for troublemakers, but no one was in favour of the proposed diversion.
Uddingston Community Council claimed the current path is a right of way and said the number of objectors to its closure was 39 and not 22.
Mr Jackson described the order as ‘badly drafted’, but said whether it is a right of way or not the council has the power to close a path to allow a development to go ahead.