Residents fighting a neighbouring school over the closure of a well-trodden shortcut have called for a truce while experts decide what constitutes a footpath.
And the householders in Alcester Avenue, Penwortham have won the backing of County Hall planners who are urging Penwortham Girls’ High School to delay building new gates until the legal position is resolved.
Local councillor David Howarth revealed: “If this was put on hold while we put in a claim for the shortcut to be designated a public footpath then the residents would be more than happy.
“But it’s really up to the school. They could spend a lot of money erecting the gates, only to have to pull them down in the future if the path is recognised.”
Plans for boundary fencing and 2.4-metre gates went before the county council two weeks ago to improve security for pupils.
Residents from Alcester Avenue, Hill Road and Clifton Drive who use the path as a cut-through to shops and a health centre, objected to the application, claiming it had been a shortcut since before the school was built and as such should be officially designated.
At least 20 households are lodging applications to make it a public right of way and that decision could take up to 12 months.
A County Hall planning spokesman explained that while the fencing was acceptable, the authority’s development control committee was encouraging the school not to build the gates
They said that would “avoid unnecessary restriction on members of the public and costs incurred by the erection of the gates/barrier in the event such an application were to be successful.”