A recent planning application to redevelop the Shell Garage on Stansted Road provided an excellent opportunity to improve the above-mentioned public footpath that runs along its north-western boundary.
The footpath provides a useful shortcut for pedestrians from Stansted Road through to Cannons Mill Lane. It is narrow much of its length but significantly so at the Stansted Road end due to hedges and the perimeter fence of the Shell garage. The BSDFA, Parsonage Residents Association and local residents asked for the footpath improvements to be incorporated into the scheme. HCC Highways was supportive and proposed the following ‘condition’ in its response to the Planning Application.
“There is maximum benefit to the public in widening elsewhere, to minimise the narrower lengths. HCC are working towards active travel on foot & cycle (again in accordance with published policies in LTP & Active Travel Strategies), to the Shell shop by local users, including along this path.”
Unfortunately, the EHDC Planning Officer in his Report disagreed.
“HCC Highways have been consulted on the proposal. Highways initially raised an objection due to insufficient information, however following this more information was provided and the latest comments from Highways did not raise any objection.
The Comments from Highways did include comments from the Public Rights of Way officer requesting that the adjacent footpath which runs along the north-western side of the site be increased in width as a result of this proposal. This widening of the public footpath is not proposed as part of this application.
With the application site being an existing petrol station and the proposal being to replace the existing sales building, as opposed to any new use or major development on the site, it is not considered reasonable to require the footpath to be widened as part of this proposal and it would be unreasonable for the scheme to be refused because this is not provided. The proposed development would not impact upon the existing footpath.”
This is disappointing but we will continue our dialogue with the HCC Rights of Way team to explore ways to improve this footpath along its length.