Plans to incorporate a strip of pavement into a property’s front garden in East Wittering have been approved.
The Watersedge Gardens homeowner has bought the strip of land in Shore Road from West Sussex County Council and has submitted a change of use application to Chichester District Council.
Residents have raised concerns about the safety of all pavement users, especially children and people with disabilities, as well as impeding visibility for vehicles.
The area in question was described as a refuge where pedestrians can pass safely, with no pavement on the eastern side of Shore Road.
When the application came back to CDC’s planning committee it was approved by nine votes to four last Wednesday (July 18).
The new boundary would connect to the wall outside the neighbouring property and taper in on the other side.
Applicant Paul Collard, owner of the property in Watersedge Gardens, said: “The issue is whether the pavements will be any less safe than they are at present.
“It has now been established by the highways experts that my proposal does not give rise to any increased risk to public safety.”
But a number of speakers spoke against the application.
Jan Culverwell, who lives in Shore Road, suggested the county council’s work was flawed and failed to take into account the large number of pedestrians using the footpath during the summer.
She said: “To allow this application is sheer lunacy and against all logic.”
Bill Buckland, speaking for West Wittering Parish Council, said the wide footpath played an integral part as a refuge for pedestrians, while Mike Lawson, from East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council, felt the change would clearly result in a reduction in access.
Both Elizabeth Hamilton (Con, West Wittering) and Susan Taylor (Con, East Wittering) also spoke against the plans before the committee started its debate.
AN officer from the county council said that two metres is an acceptable distance for two pedestrians to pass.
But Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester East) felt the county council had failed to take into consideration the peak use of the footpath.
However Simon Oakley (Con, Tangmere) suggested a refusal on highway safety grounds would be difficult to defend on appeal with relatively low vehicle speeds along that section of the road and no footpaths on stretches of Shore Road north of the application site.
But he added: “I do understand people are concerned with the loss of a piece of public land.”
Carol Purnell (Con, Selsey North) agreed, pointing out that the pavement already narrows to two metres in width a few yards away from the strip in question.
She added: “You drive according to the conditions and pedestrians walk according to the conditions.”