PLANS for a pedestrian crossing in Broad Street, Lyme Regis, have been recommended for refusal ahead of a Dorset County Council meeting next week.
The county council’s Regulatory Committee will make a final decision on the proposed puffin crossing on December 6, with officers recommending that the £82,500 scheme be scrapped.
Lyme Regis Town Council first requested a pedestrian crossing in 2016 when more than 600 residents signed a petition in favour of the idea, but several councillors have since retracted their support and the plans received significant opposition when they went to public consultation.
After Dorset County Council drew up initial plans for the crossing, councillors expressed concerns about its proposed location between the Pug & Puffin and Joules stores, and the number of on-street parking spaces that would be lost – initially thought to be seven or eight.
County council officers said the location was the only practical position for the crossing, because of access to private properties and car parks, and the disabled parking bay outside Boots. However, they agreed to reduce the length of the zig-zag markings on the lower side of the crossing, meaning it would only result in the loss of four or five spaces.
Despite their concerns, town councillors agreed to continue their support for the scheme, saying there was “no other option”.
Speaking in October 2017, the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, warned that the crossing would “kill the town”.
However, town and district councillor Cheryl Reynolds – who organised the initial petition – has retained her support for the scheme, arguing that a crossing is needed to help people cross the street safely, especially the elderly, disabled and those with young children.
At the latest Town Management & Highways Committee meeting, which Councillor Reynolds did not attend, Councillor Derek Hallett said: “I’m inundated with people telling me we don’t need it. The town is jammed up 90 per cent of the time, we just don’t need it.”
Councillor Brian Larcombe added: “This is something that’s going to cause more problems.”
Councillor Stan Williams asked if the council could “resolve plainly that we don’t want it” while the county council was still considering the matter. However, Councillor Jeff Scowen – chairing the meeting in the absence of Councillor John Broom – said it was now out of the town council’s hands.
In the report to be considered by the county’s Regulatory Committee, officers said there had been six personal injury collisions in Broad Street in the last five years, five of which were recorded as “slight” and one as “serious”. Two of these collisions had involved young children on foot, including the serious accident, but the road layout and lack of crossing were not cited as factors in the incidents.
When plans for the puffin crossing were put to public consultation, the county council received 43 letters of objection and nine in support. Those in support said they recognised the need for a safe crossing point, while those objecting expressed concerns about the potential for traffic congestion, possible tailbacks and the loss of on-street parking. Some also said it was currently easy to cross Broad Street.
The officer’s report concluded: “Having considered the representations received, Cabinet be recommended not to support the provision of a puffin crossing as advertised, due to the loss of on-street parking which would increase air pollution and could adversely affect businesses.
“It is considered that the risk of potential impacts on local businesses, from the loss of parking and loading provision, outweighs the benefits of a crossing.”