VOTE: Objectors say diversion of footpath is not needed

A proposed diversion of a footpath was three-and-a-half times longer than the existing route, a public inquiry was told.

The inspector chairing the inquiry heard the change to footpath 2988 because of the Site Six housing scheme of 700 homes was not needed.

Felpham resident and dog-walker John Holman said: “We are considering a diversion of 545m, compared to 155m along the existing route.

“The effect of the diversion order will be significant in terms of additional distance and journey time, and is the primary reason for public objections.”

Mr Holman, of Roundle Avenue, said the alteration was not even needed.

“Arun District Council maintains it is necessary to divert the footpath simply because the proposed development crosses the existing route of the footpath.

“This is not the case. The layout plan of the development clearly shows that no building work is envisaged on either side of FP 2988.

“Indeed, it is clear the plans have been drawn up to avoid disruption to this footpath as it proceeds northwards through the new estate.”

He also challenged the view the diversion was needed to ensure a safe crossing point for walkers across the new Bognor Regis northern relief road.

Mr Holman made his comments during the rare two-day inquiry into the future of the footpath as well as nearby footpath 154. The inquiry was held at Bognor Regis Town Hall by planning inspector Helen Slade last week.

It was called after some 15 objections to Arun District Council’s plans to divert both routes.

FP 2988 runs between New Barn Lane to Chessels Farm, both in Felpham, while FP 154 goes from the golf clubhouse at Clap Lane, Felpham, to the footbridge south of Hoe Lane in Flansham.

The other objections included the alleged danger of the road’s proposed crossing at a roundabout and potential conflict between farm operations and walkers.

David Hart QC, for the developer Barratt David Wilson Homes (Southampton), said the permissions for the housing already granted by the government and the council allowed for the footpaths to be changed.

“We, of course, acknowledge, that the diverted routes will be less convenient than the present.

“But we say weighing that inconvenience against the benefits of the development, the latter as already determined by the secretary of state, there is no good reason to refuse the order – and every good reason to confirm it.

“In short, the road and its noise barriers cannot be completed in accordance with the consent, if the current alignment of the footpaths is maintained,” he said.

Arun strategic development planner Keith Wheway said: “It is considered that safety is more important than inconvenience.

“The diversion of the footpaths is clearly shown on the masterplan approved by the secretary of state.”