Plans to incorporate two metres of pavement into a house’s front garden have sparked anger in East Wittering.
The 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.
Applicant Paul Collard, owner of the property in Watersedge Gardens, said: “I regret this has been the cause of such controversy.”
He argued that all highway safety requirements had been met but residents raised concerns about the safety of all pavement users, especially children and people with disabilities, as well as impeding visibility for vehicles.
The application was deferred by members of CDC’s planning committee last Wednesday to receive more information from WSCC on pedestrian safety and for a site visit.
Earlier West Wittering councillor Graeme Barrett’s motion to refuse the application was defeated by nine votes to three.
He explained: “This is a case of overdevelopment where the developer has seemingly realised he’s got a lack of space and wants to encroach on the public highway.”
Objector Jan Culverwell said: “To narrow the pavement by two metres is pure madness.”
She described how the area would often reach ‘bursting point’ during the summer, with crowds of people heading to the seafront.
Several speakers raised the fact there is no pavement on the east side of Shore Road.
Representatives from both West Wittering and East Wittering and Bracklesham parish councils spoke in objection.
Brian Reeves, from East Wittering and Bracklesham PC, said: “It makes no sense at all to change a public footpath in a busy road into a garden and it can’t be seen as acceptable.”
West Wittering’s other district councillor, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Susan Taylor, who represents East Wittering, both raised safety concerns.
As part of plans the existing wall would be demolished and a new one built along the property’s revised boundary.
But the pavement in question was described as a refuge where pedestrians can pass safely.
Although councillors were critical of the plans, they were advised by officers to seek clarity from WSCC rather than refuse the application.
Tricia Tull (Con, Sidlesham) said she found the application ‘completely bizarre’, while Julie Tassell (Con, Funtington) described being ‘gobsmacked’ by the county council’s approach.
Jane Kilby (Con, Chichester East) added: “I can see no reason why we are making this pavement so much smaller.”
But Mark Dunn (Con, Westbourne) said: “If we act in a hasty way we have damaged our position.”