Fears for the future of a footpath built after a teenager was run over walking to school in Uttoxeter have been allayed after plans to develop an adjoining site were dropped.
The off-road route between Hockley Road and Oldfields Hall Middle School was built when a pupil was knocked down and injured on Stone Road in 2007.
Without the path, scores of youngsters would be forced to use the narrow pavement on traffic-congested Stone Road to get to school.
A notice was recently put up on Mount Pleasant, through which the walkway runs, asserting Staffordshire County Council's ownership of the land.
The council announced plans to sell the land to make way for elderly care homes in 2014, sparking fears the path could be built over.
But county officials have now revealed there are no longer any plans in place to develop the site.
According to Councillor Mark Deaville, it is more likely to be used for "recreation and leisure" in the future.
He said: "We regularly review our property portfolio and land assets to ensure we have best value for the taxpayer.
"In this case the land is designated as a local green space in the Uttoxeter Neighbourhood Plan, which offers some protection against development considered to be inappropriate, although proposals for recreation and leisure use may be supported.
"We have realised recently that people may have thought that the land was general open space, and not owned by any person or organisation, but that’s not the case - it’s owned by the county council.
"Nothing has changed. People can still walk on the permissive footpath across the land, but we have to ensure that people are aware that they are using the land with the council’s permission. This notice is a standard way of letting people know the land is actually owned."
Back in 2014, Staffordshire County Council announced it wanted to sell Mount Pleasant, a greenfield site worth millions of pounds.
The council applied to get the site included in the Local Plan for residential housing.
After more than 10,000 people signed a petition calling for Mount Pleasant and surrounding land to remain undeveloped, East Staffordshire Borough Council rejected the application.
The county council then invited developers to come forward to build a care home on the land instead.
As the authority in charge of elderly care, the county council would not have needed the borough planning committee's approval to push the move through.
Town councillor Martin Blencowe was integral in the introduction of the footpath.
He said: "I had been led to believe the footpath would be recorded officially as such and would thus remain in perpetuity.
"We of course now know the county council deny that is the case and it was only ever an informal permission that could be rescinded at any time.
"This seems rather odd given the expense of the gates installed at either end and of course the path that was put in.
"We have to question what is behind the county council's notice - are they now preparing some form of development plan?
"The land is in public ownership and it is not unreasonable to expect that the public should be consulted over its future use.
"Whatever the council perceive for the land's future, it is surely not unreasonable to hope that the 2m strip housing the footpath could be retained as a permanent walkway for school children.
"This would ensure a better walking route than the dangerous path down Stone Road and a well-used amenity for walkers."
Oldfields head teacher Carl Gliddon said: "Travelling to and from school at a busy time of day is something we look to address in two ways.
"Firstly, we give youngsters the skills to manage their journeys, whether using smaller or busier roads.
"The second thing we do is value any paths that allow them to travel to and from school without coming into contact with traffic.
"About 50 youngsters use that path every day and it is highly valued by everyone at the school.
"We certainly would not want to see it disappear as it’s a very safe way of travelling across that part of town without having to walk down Stone Road.
"It’s a very busy road and is in close proximity to several schools, with lots of children walking up and down it every day.
"The path is, in my view, a safer alternative and whatever happens to Mount Pleasant in the future, I would hope it remains in place."