Residents in plea to keep shortcut open

The pathway that runs as a short-cut alongside Penwortham Girls High School
The pathway that runs as a short-cut alongside Penwortham Girls High School
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Residents are ready to take on their local school over plans to block off a shortcut they have used for more than 40 years.

Homeowners in Alcester Avenue, Penwortham, will face a lengthy detour if the neighbouring girls’ school gets council permission to erect 2.4-metre gates and fencing to improve security.

The work would mean blocking a footpath which locals say has been a cut-through for pedestrians to reach Cop Lane since at least the 1970s.

And residents are expected to show their opposition to the plan when the matter goes before the county council’s development control committee in Preston tomorrow.

“While this is not a designated footpath, people have used it for the best part of 40 years or more,” said local Liberal-Democrat councillor David Howarth.

“And if people can show it has been used as a footpath for at least 20 years, then blocking it off can be challenged. We could have a situation where councillors pass these gates and then have to order them to be taken down.”

Penwortham Girls’ High wants to build the security gates and fencing along the side of its site to safeguard pupils during school hours and also stop dog walkers accessing the field on evenings and weekends.

A report by officers to the LCC committee tomorrow recommends approval, and says: “There is no formal public right of way through the school grounds and therefore there is no need for any form of footpath diversion.”

One resident who objected raised concerns that the plan had not been properly advertised.

Coun Howarth added: “We are leafletting the area just to make sure people know what is being proposed. It seems very few people are aware of what is happening. But objections can be lodged right up to tomorrow’s meeting.”