‘Fed up’ Southwater residents want safe footpath between homes and business park

Fresh calls for a safe footpath between Southwater homes and a business park have been made by ‘fed up’ residents.

Currently pedestrians have to walk on the grass verge or in the road along Blakes Farm Road between the Hangmans Hill roundabout at the northern end of the village and the RSPCA roundabout.

Residents of Martindales have raised serious safety concerns especially as it is the route for large vehicles travelling to and from the Oakhurst Business Park.

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They are calling for a safe footpath to be built along this length of Blakes Farm Road.

Martindales residents, pictured with councillor Billy Greening, want a safe footpath along Blakes Farm Road. Pic by S Robards

Billy Greening, district councillor for Southwater North, has started a petition signed by 330 people already.

The safety problems have been exacerbated by the fact that two new industrial units are being built to the east and south of Martindales.

This is because construction has seen the temporary closure of a section of footpath 1669, which gives pedestrians a direct route to Worthing Road. Not only has it led to more people walking along the road, some have been cutting through Martindales, which is a private road.

This footpath was also closed during land clearance.

One resident described how their husband had fallen from the verge into the road when walking their two dogs, injuring his back. She added: “Everybody is just fed up.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Safety is always our top priority and Footpath 1669 has been temporarily closed, for public safety reasons, whilst the site it runs through is being developed following the granting of planning permission.

“There is no alternative route available through the site but there are alternative roads with pavements people could use. These mean a longer journey than using Blakes Farm Road but we would always urge people to use the safest available route.”

A Horsham District Council spokesman added: “The Martindales development has provided the County Council with a sum of £79,000 (not the £700,000 quoted) to contribute towards one or more of a series of local transport projects itemised within the planning permission.

“One of these itemised projects is for a possible footpath on Blakes Farm Road. The County Council have confirmed that this sum will not fund a footpath on its own and are reviewing how this contribution is to be best spent to support transport projects in the area.

“Footpath 1669 has been temporarily closed to enable the construction of two industrial buildings and is scheduled to re-open by September this year. In the meantime there are alternative safe walking routes to access local facilities using public footpaths. Footpath 1669 will cross the access into one of the new industrial units, however this is not an unusual arrangement and has been appropriately assessed by the necessary technical experts.”

Meanwhile Southwater Parish Council confirmed the issue of a new footpath had been discussed at a number of meetings last year and it had also had raised it with county councillor Nigel Jupp, who had offered to provide his assistance and discuss the Section 106 allocated for path extension works.

A statement from SPC added: “Unfortunately the S106 funds provided by the developer are not sufficient to cover the full extent of the path works so would require additional financial input from West Sussex County Council and/or Horsham District Council.

“If there is significant support from the residents of Southwater then this will assist in the consideration process of such a project for both WSCC and HDC.