PLANS for a new footbridge at a level crossing were approved last night.
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the bridge across the railway line at Southleigh Road in Warblington.
The development was welcomed as it should alleviate safety concerns at the crossing, which is used by hundreds of children every day as it is near Warblington School.
For years there have been fears a serious accident could happen as children have been known to rush across the level crossing as the gates close.
The bridge, made of galvanised steel, will be 114ft long, about 24ft high and include a roof.
However, not everyone was happy with its design.
Havant Borough Council’s planning committee heard that some residents were worried about the solid steel design of the parapets.
They said it could become a convenient hideout for youths at night.
Andrew Norton, from Warblington and Denvilles Residents’ Association, said: ‘I can see no point in building a bridge that users do not feel safe to use.’
But the committee was told that Network Rail had stipulated it did not want a mesh design because of people dangling objects from the bridge.
The committee received a total of six letters of objection and two letters of support for the footbridge.
Committee members Councillors Brendan Gibb-Gray and Michael Wilson were concerned that it was not made more clear who the applicants were in the papers.
Planning officer Chris Murray explained that the applicants were engineering consultants taken on by Barrett David Wilson Homes, which is proposing to build a 191-home development at the Manor Farm and Copsey’s Nursery site nearby.
He said: ‘There is some link between this and proposals elsewhere in the area.
‘There’s no secret to that.’
He added: ‘Any decision we make has no bearing whatsoever on any proposals in the area.’
Cllr Elaine Shimbart said it was a shame that mums with prams and wheelchair users could not be catered for, but added that the bridge was ‘essential’ for safety.
Cllr Gibb-Gray added: ‘It’s of strategic importance.
‘It’s the most important school in Havant town and it does need to have safe access to and from school.
‘It’s long overdue.’
CCTV and lighting will be included.