Developer proposes that children walk to schoolby road separated only by a white line – no pavement!

Safety measures branded ‘crazy and irresponsible’

“An outline planning application to build on a Greenfield site next to Sidmouth Road [Ottery St Mary]now includes provision of a white line on the highway to provide a footway for pedestrians and a pledge to start a ‘walking bus’ for schoolchildren.

The plans submitted by the Gerway Land Owners Consortium were put before Ottery Town Council at a meeting on Monday, where they were blasted as ‘unsuitable’, ‘unsafe’ – and described as even worse than the original proposal.

The decision to strongly oppose the plan – which has now received 688 objections – was agreed by a unanimous vote.

Mayor Glyn Dobson said: “I could never agree to either of these schemes where they are going to paint a line on a highway and expect children to walk along it. It is a crazy application – it’s not safe and it’s not suitable to build there.”

Speaking at the meeting, Dave McKinney, of Sidmouth Road, said: “To now introduce high volumes of pedestrian traffic, particularly schoolchildren, along this road with the current traffic conditions is irresponsible.

“The walking bus would have to negotiate this road at the worst time of day with no protection from the traffic. To sponsor a start-up walking bus is just paying lip service to the issue and has no longevity. The reality is people will not risk walking along the road and will drive. The footpath proposal illustrates a desperate attempt to gain approval for an unsuitable development.”

Paul Vickory said he has lived in the area for more than 50 years and suggested traffic calming measures proposed by the developer would only exacerbate existing congestion problems at Tip Hill.

Brian Nelson, chairman of Gerway Action Group, set up in protest to the initial proposal, said he has been informed by Devon County Council’s (DCC) highways team that the example of a white line walkway given by the developer – for a road in Dartington – would now be against policy.

This was backed up by planning chairman Councillor Ian Holmes, who said the aforementioned example would not be renewed.

Mr Nelson concluded: “I seriously worry for the safety of the children being walked in a long line on an 80-metre stretch of Sidmouth Road.”

Cllr Roger Giles put forward the proposal to ‘strongly oppose’ the application, saying: “Usually in these cases, the applicant submits something more reasonable. This application is different in that what the applicant has proposed is even worse, if that’s possible, and there are even stronger grounds to refuse it.”