COUNCILLORS have refused attempts to close off a narrow path in Inverness, dubbed possibly the worst in the Highlands.
The footpath behind Woodside Drive Farm has been used as a den for drinking, sexual activities and antisocial behaviour but planning permission to absorb it into neighbouring gardens has been blocked for a second time.
Woodside of Culloden Owners Association applied to the council to close the path, which is on land owned by Tulloch Homes.
Some home owners wanted to extend their gardens slightly to absorb the path, which is just 0.6m at its narrowest point and is surrounded by 1.8m high fences.
Council officers refused planning permission in October and an appeal heard on Tuesday was also thrown out, despite concerns for the safety of those using the path.
Councillor Margaret Paterson said: “I think there are problematic paths all over but this one is very narrow and it does concern me.
“It may be a shortcut but I would be concerned about using it because of the high fences and narrow path.”
In a previous planning report, council access officer Stewart Eastaugh, said he did not want the path to be closed, but said it could be the “worst example of a path in the Highlands” and highlighted problems regarding antisocial behaviour.
The path does not have legal right of way as it has not yet been in use for 20 years but councillors and officers said it is well used to access nearby shops and a bus stop.
It emerges on to a parking area and bin store and is also close to two play parks and Les Enfants nursery.
Councillors agreed that removing the path would have a negative effect on local residents and unanimously refused the appeal.
Culloden and Ardersier councillor Roddy Balfour said: “This [development] was built 15 years ago when planning was going berserk and housing was going up everywhere.
“People just wanted the houses up without taking these things into consideration.
“However, there is a path network that this is part of so it is important that we keep that.”
Wester Ross councillor Biz Campbell agreed, saying closing the path would cause an “unacceptable loss”, while committee chairman Allan Henderson pointed out issues with antisocial behaviour should be dealt with by police.
Tulloch Homes has claimed that the walkway is an inherited issue and during the application it supported closing it to help deal with the problems.
Allied, Souter and Jaffrey, the factor at Woodside of Culloden, previously wrote to everyone who is liable for the area of land to ask if it should be closed.