A FOOTPATH closure which sparked a bitter five-year planning dispute and a public inquiry has been resolved.
Education bosses have now made an entrance in the fence which had stopped the path being used when Boldon School and a housing estate were built six years ago.
There was an outcry from residents over the building blunder because the error stopped householders in East Boldon getting to New Road and local services in Boldon Colliery.
Today, campaigners who had battled for the re-opening of the historic right-of-way said: “We are delighted this has happened.”
During the dispute, school chiefs failed to bow to the demands of a Government inspector who had ordered the path to be re-opened, but now agreement has been reached between the school and South Tyneside Council.
Boldon Colliery Labour councillor Alison Strike said: “The path’s closure meant residents, including many elderly people, had to walk the long way around the school site.
“This has been a long-running issue, but I’m delighted this pathway is back open for use.”
Campaigner Colin Simpson, 73, added: “It’s good to see the route reopened, and I hope that it gets well used and safely used.
“I’d like to thank all the people of West Boldon who attended meetings and got involved in this issue.”
He also praised Malcolm Richardson, an original management committee member of Boldon Community Association, for his support.
Rachael Feechan, 25, and David Porter, 31, who feared the path may have been reinstated on its original route, which went through what is now their garden in Burnside Close, also spoke of their relief.
Ms Feechan said: “David and I are very pleased that this has been resolved.”
The saga centred on a short section of path which passes from open grassland into the grounds of the school.
It forms part of a 400 metre-long path – first noted on maps in 1889 – which runs from Tracey Avenue in West Boldon, through the school and on to New Road.
In 2006, a 150m-long end section at New Road was blocked off temporarily.
A planning error meant it was incorporated into the back gardens of houses being erected on the new estate.
It left the remaining 250m-long stretch dead-ending at Ms Feechan and Mr Porter’s garden wall and it has had to be re-routed