The new owner of land above Buxton’s ‘High Footpath’ has pledged to tidy up the area and make the entrance to the town more respectable.
With more than 50 years’ experience of dry stone walling, Bernard Titterton bought the land two months ago and his main aim is to cut back the trees and make it safe again.
He said: “I used to drive past it every day and it was looking a mess and really bringing the town down, so I decided to do something about it and buy it.”
The raised town centre footpath, next to the A6 Bakewell Road, was closed in 2011 after safety concerns concerning overhanging trees causing parts of the walls bordering the footpath to collapse.
Bernard said: “There is so much to do before discussions about opening up the pavement again can even start. It will cost about £20,000 to do all the work on repairing the walls and removing the trees before it can even be considered safe again.”
The 3.5 acres of land is located within the built-up framework of the town, opposite Morrisons supermarket.
Bernard, who lives in Leek, started working on stone wall projects as a child while he was working on his father’s farm.
“The wall is not really the problem, it’s all the trees which overhang the road and the roots are causing problems for the home owners at the top of the site.
“However, it is not as easy as ripping the trees out as there are tree protection orders in place. This means my hands are tied regarding the work I can do to the site.”
Derbyshire County Council initially sold the land to a private owner for £10,000 in 2008. The Advertiser reported in 2013 how a Freedom of Information request revealed the authority had spent £33,889.65 on the footpath. It was unclear whether this figure included around £8,400 spent on legal costs trying to get the then landowner to take remedial action.
Bernard does not own all of the land - the two end pieces are owned by separate people - and he would like to contact them and buy it all up to be able to look after all of the site.
He added: “Currently I’m not looking to develop it, I just want it to look tidier and more respectable. I want to make Buxton look nicer when you arrive.”
The land was put up for auction in the spring through Graham Penny, and although on the market for £15,000 Bernard picked it up for £12,000.
A county council spokesman said: “We welcome the fact that work to make the wall safe is to be carried out.
“Once this has been completed we would need to revisit the site to ensure it is safe and secure and then see if any further measures were needed before the path could be re-opened.”