Furious residents have accused their neighbours of “land grabbing” after a fence was erected on land used as a right of way for four decades.
A row has erupted on Cloverdale, Shelf, after the occupants of two properties joined together to fence off a patch of wasteland between their houses.
Angry objectors say other residents were not consulted prior to the fence going up and are worried the move is a ploy to annex the land and restrict access.
Now, residents are calling for the fence to be pulled down and are lobbying Calderdale Council to designate the land, which is unregistered, as an official public right of way.
But those who put the fence up say they have consulted relevant agencies - including the council - and have taken action as a way to protect and maintain the land and keep their children safe.
They also say Enterprise Inns, who own the land behind the houses but not the land between, plan to use the wasteland as an access road for a planned development and the fence is a way of preventing this.
One objector, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s a land grab, they have not consulted anybody, with a view to annexing land for themselves.
“They’ve come up with some excuse and it’s a smokescreen to their ultimate purpose. We want it open access for people to use like it has been for 40 years.”
Another objector added: “I think people feel bullied - they are squatting the land with a view to it being given to them in a few years time.”
Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf), said: “My view is that it’s been a public right of way for 40 years plus. It has been fenced without authority, without consultation with any residents or the planning committee or without asking anybody. We want the council to force removal of the fence and re-instate this as a right of way.”
Those who put the fence up, who did not want to be named, said: “There were horses coming from the land towards our children, rubbish being dumped, we’ve found used condoms and really bad dog fouling.
“We just want to maintain the land and we didn’t want to cause hassle. We have had people knocking on our door saying they are glad we have done this. We do not want to prevent people from accessing the land behind our houses.
“Calderdale Council told us that it is not a public right of way, the public footpath is only metres away.
“We would not have put that fence up if we were doing anything illegal. Enterprise want to purchase or claim this land to make it into an access road for a housing development behind our houses.
“They advised us that if we hadn’t put a fence up they would have. We do not wish to benefit from this land, all we want to do is protect it, maintain it, stop it from becoming an access road and most importantly we want to keep our children safe.”
A Calderdale Council spokesperson said they had given their advice and confirmed that the land between the houses is unregistered and there is no legally recorded right of way across it.
They added that adjacent properties would need to apply for planning permission if any wall or fence installed was over one metre high when next to a highway, or over two metres high in any other case.Enterprise Inns were unavailable for comment.