Ramblers beat path to couple's front door

A young couple who have ordered a new home may be unable to move in for weeks - or for ever - after Wiltshire County Council ordered the front and back doors be kept open to protect an ancient right of way.

The company which built the house, Persimmons Homes, had to remove the doors yesterday after admitting it had built the property in Vale View, Bitham Park, Westbury, before planning permission was granted.

Now the right of way - which runs from the front door through the living room to the back of the house - has to be protected until at least September. The couple, who have made a reservation on the house and are keen to move in, are waiting to see if the right of way can be diverted.

Denise Pinner, of the council's rights of way department, said that the doors were removed only after a threat by the council to move the doors itself today. She said: "We are not in the habit of destroying houses but we legally have to protect the right of way.

"We will think about diverting the right of way if no objectors come forward by Friday but I am told there will be an objector. Then it goes to a council decision in September and I cannot say what that will be."

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes said that the couple were still "keen to move in. They still want the house but it has not yet been purchased. They're unable to complete the move until the matter is resolved.

"We acknowledge we did jump the gun a little but as far as we are concerned the open doors are a temporary measure."

As far as Bitham Park residents are concerned, diverting the right of way might be more of a problem.

Karen Randall, a housewife who has lived in Westbury for 14 years, said yesterday: "They shouldn't have built it over such an important part of the area. I feel sorry for the people who have reserved the house but it should be knocked down and the area left as it is."