CAMPAIGNERS say they are “ecstatic” that the £400,000 Bilton to Ripley bridleway will go ahead.
A planning inspector has granted permission for the route, saying the potential benefits outweighed concerns over privacy and anti-social behaviour.
Malcolm Margolis, of cycle group WheelEasy!, is one of hundreds of campaigners who have backed the project since it was first mooted over 15 years ago.
He said: “We’re just ecstatic. We’ve got the result we all hoped for and I can’t wait until it’s all open and we can enjoy it.”
“There’s been huge frustration and times when we thought we would never get to this stage.
“It’s wonderful to know that it’s going ahead.
“We feel it will greatly benefit the community and visitors to the area and I think we’ll only realise how much of a different it will make once it’s built.”
The 3.7km path, for use by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, will begin at Bilton Lane, Harrogate and finish at Killinghall Bridge, Ripley. It will be opened by March 2013.
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans is providing £400,000 of lottery money for the scheme, with any extra cost to be borne by Harrogate Council.
In his ruling, inspector Roger Pritchard said: “The proposed route has significant potential to add to the enjoyment of a substantial section of the public in the wider Harrogate area, but I also consider that it could provide a degree of greater convenience.”
Claire Wright, from Sustrans said, “We are delighted at the result from the public inquiry.
“The project will enable the people of Harrogate to make so many more of their local journeys easily and safely on foot, by bike or horse, and will be fully accessible for wheelchair users.”