A ‘path to nowhere’ in Whiteley has now become a ‘path to somewhere’ - following a town council vote to reopen the route.
The path connecting Meadowside Recreation Ground and Whiteley had been blocked by a wooden and metal fence for more than four years, but the fences have now been removed.
British Land, which owns the land, undertook work to remove the fences and connect the path to the track around the recreation ground this week.
Last month, Whiteley Town Council voted eight to two in favour of reopening the path.
At the meeting residents argued that the blockage discriminated against disabled residents, who needed a shorter route from the playing fields to the shops on the edge of the town.
The metal fence also posed a risk to children who climb over it, with at least one child injuring themselves while climbing the fence earlier in the year, residents claimed.
One resident who attended the meeting and asked not to be named, said ‘common sense prevailed’ with the decision.
She said: ‘For the vulnerable residents of our town, having the path open is huge.
‘Might be a small path to some people, but it will bring a huge benefit to disabled people.
‘It’s been a real battle - it shouldn’t have been this difficult to get the fences removed.’
Council chairman Mike Evans and vice-chairman Malcolm Butler voted for the path to remain closed.
Councillor Evans said he had ‘sound reasons’ for his vote.
He said: ‘I had sound reasons for wanting to keep it closed, reasons to do with risk.’
The path had been closed due to numerous anti-social behaviour complaints arising from people using the path, leading to a report by a Hampshire Police crime prevention adviser.
Cllr Evans added: ‘The anti-social behaviour is still there, and we have to monitor it.
‘We reserve the right to close the path in the future.’
A kissing-gate being installed to stop motor vehicles using the route was discussed at the meeting, but Cllr Evans said no plans had been finalised.