Philip has written a report of the Centurion Way Phase 2 Extension – linking West Dean to the South Downs Way near Cocking received Planning Permission at The South Downs National Park Planning Committee on the 10th October.
It was touch and go whether Permission would be Granted with several Members initially unable to support through having concerns about the 1.5 m wide length of footpath along the busy A286 at West Dean being unsuitable and dangerous. Other concerns included mobility impaired access (the West Dean steps and steep gradients on the new section) and impact on ancient woodland.
There was a long discussion culminating in Permission Granted but subject to investigation into opening West Dean Tunnel with reference to where tunnels have been opened in Bath and Bristol [many other examples], and liaison with Natural England towards obtaining a Licence through minimising the impact on the bats.
It was noted that there has to be a route that avoids the Main Road – this could be achieved either via the West Dean Tunnel or through the woods, which involved further impacting ancient woodland, steep gradients and negotiations with a mozaic of different tenants. The Policy and Resources Committee will be asked to take this forward.
Both Adam Bell and I spoke about the need for this Centurion Way Extention – we could well have influenced the Planning Committee in favour of Passing the Application.
There is a recording of the Meeting available on the SDNPA Website.
Immediately following the Meeting, Chris Sprules, Adam Bell, Cllr Henry Potter and I had a constructive conversation with Alister Linton-Crook of the SDNPA to confirm our support.
The area where Centurion Way currently finishes at West Dean and the new section of path will begin can be viewed in the snip from Bing maps shown below. The route of the old railway line can be made out as it is lined with trees.