A popular shared footpath and cycleway is under threat from a Tesco planning application to install a new Timpson pod.
The path runs round the back of Tesco and links The Petersfield School (TPS) and Petersfield Infant School with the north and west of town. The plan would reduce the width of the path from 8m to 3m, which Petersfield Climate Action Network (PeCAN) claim would be unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians at peak times.
PeCAN Active Travel group became aware of the planning application and approached TPS to ask how well used the path is.
Headteacher Mark Marande said: “I am happy to confirm that the numbers are significantly in excess of 300.
“We believe that over 800 students use this pathway daily towards Tesco as their main route to and from school with around 400 in total using the top gate to Cranford Road.”
Students from the Eco Committee at TPS carried out a count at the beginning of the school day, revealing that 772 students entered the school through the gate which is on the shared path.
Volunteers from PeCAN’s Active Travel group carried out two counts at peak times between 7:45am – 8:45am and 3pm – 4pm counting more than 821 people in the morning and 842 people in the afternoon.
Concerns have also been raised about the impact it will have on local businesses.
Owners of The Petersfield Cobbler in Chapel Street set up a petition which has been signed by almost 1,000 people.
Steve White, who runs The Petersfield Cobbler said: “The problem is, this won’t affect just my business, it will affect three or four other local businesses too like the phone repair shop, dry cleaners and the photo shop.
“Timpson won’t bring anything to Petersfield that we don’t already have here as independent shops on the high street.”
Gethin Morgan-Owen, Active Travel lead at PeCAN, said: “We are very concerned about the potential impact given that this is one of the town's busiest footpaths in terms of peak footfall.
“Creating a pinch point near a busy school gate discourages walking and cycling to school, while reinforcing an unsustainable reliance on private cars.
“This pod will create blind corners, thus endangering pedestrians, especially the younger children who are less aware of the risk of collisions with cycle users and people coming and going from the door of the pod.”