Council accused of ‘putting listed building over road safety’ as crossing bid is considered

Concerns raised over the effect a zebra crossing outside Saxongate would have on Cowper House, in Hu

Concerns raised over the effect a zebra crossing outside Saxongate would have on Cowper House, in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

The district council has been accused of putting the look of Huntingdon over the safety of residents and town centre visitors.

Huntingdon Town Council has put forward a proposal for a zebra crossing outside the Saxongate Community Learning Centre after a long campaign by town residents.

But at a meeting of members of the town authority on June 29, concerns regarding the effect that the crossing could have on the town and its location outside the Grade-II listed Cowper House were raised by Huntingdonshire District Council.

In an e-mail to the town council, Louise Brown, conservation and environment team leader at the district authority, said that the zebra crossing would “introduce visual clutter in front of an important listed building”.

She added: “As I have stated, I consider the proposal will cause harm to the character and appearance

of the Huntingdon conservation are and Cowper House, a Grade-II listed building.”

At a meeting of the town council’s leisure and community services committee, on June 6, the view was criticised by councillors who felt that the zebra crossing was the only option to make the section of road safer.

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Councillor Brett Morrell said: “I think safety has to take precedence over a listed building. They are important pieces of structure but it is a fact of life that in a busy town, which is getting busier, if there is a proven need for a crossing then that must take precedence.”

Members were also shown examples of a raised table solution that has been used in the likes of Bury St Edmunds, in front of its cathedral.

Committee chairman, Councillor Tom Sanderson, said that cars were not obliged to stop at a raised table and it could therefore cause confusion.

He said that some cars may stop for those wanting to cross as a matter of courtesy but others may not, which could cause accidents.

Members voted to move ahead with the zebra crossing scheme, with Cllr Sanderson adding: “I think it is time they get on with it”.

A spokesman for the district council said: “The conservation team at the district council urged the town council to explore alternative designs to the proposed zebra crossing that would have less visual impact in this historic location.

“Ultimately though this is a decision for the town council balancing the safety objectives of proposals and their visual impact.”