Objection could lead to a public inquiry

A lone objection could lead to a public inquiry into diverting the footpath next to the new Sainsbury’s in Bognor Regis.

The single voice of dissent means Arun District Council has been unable to approve the change in the route of the public path.

The decision will need to be made at an inquiry chaired by a planning inspector appointed by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

It could be months before this is held based on the most recent inquiry about two footpaths in Felpham.

The prospect of the hold-up before it is known if the footpath between the A29 Shripney Road and the railway line can be altered was condemned at the council’s development control committee by Cllr Jacqui Maconachie (Aldwick West).

“In this day and age, it is completely incredible that one objection could cause all this nonsense,” she said.

“This procedure is out of date and archaic. It’s something, quite frankly, that needs looking at on high. I have never seen anything so pathetic.”

But the delay will not stop work on the long-awaited store.

Delwyn Jones, Arun District Council’s planning solicitor, said after the meeting: “The footpath is located at the side of the store.

“This means work on the store will not be affected by the need for the diversion order to be approved by the secretary of state.

“The timing of any inquiry will be down to how fast or slow the Planning Inspectorate moves.

“The matter could even be dealt with by letter. But all our previous contested footpath diversions have been settled by a public inquiry.”

The objections consisted of what he called ‘technical matters’ such as the need to describe the footpath as a highway and asking if the diversion had been advertised correctly.

The diverted footpath will be 137m long and 2m wide and have a slightly curved route compared to the current straight path.

Mr Jones told the committee it was highly unlikely the objection could be resolved before the inquiry.

The new route is needed so a planning approval by Arun for Sime Darby London in October 2009 for external alterations to the Widdowson Building, left from Lec Refrigeration’s presence, can occur.