Residents told to share estate road with passing cars because footpath is actually a ‘service strip’

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When is a footpath not a footpath? When it’s obstructed by a lamp-post and residents are advised by the council to walk in the road instead, writes Simon Downes.

That’s the dilemma facing the residents of Kelly Gardens in Oxley Park who have been left bemused by a poorly positioned street light in the middle of what they considered to be a footpath.

Pritesh Patel has brought the matter to the attention of Milton Keynes Council, but has been less than impressed by the response – particularly after being told that he and his children should be walking in the road instead.

Mr Patel took the debate to social media to highlight the fact that parents with pushchairs were particularly inconvenienced by the lamp-post, but was shocked by the replies he received.

“Someone designed this. Then someone installed it. Then someone approved it. Then they all got paid,” he said on Twitter.

“Who is responsible for designing this walking path? Give them an award. Please.”

A council member of staff replied to say: “This section isn’t a footpath but is a one metre service strip and step out from parking bays, front doors and driveways.

“The road was designed to be a ‘shared surface’ so pedestrians would use the road not the service strip.”

That explanation was met with anger from Mr Patel who replied: “What planet are you on? I have two children and you want them to be pushed onto the road where there are passing cars?”

Other residents have raised concerns, with one saying: “Well that definitely makes sense – pedestrians should be walking in the road. How stupid of us all.”

This site was approved by the Milton Keynes Partnership Planning Committee, but Milton Keynes Council has said where it is responsible for planning permission for new developments, it would work to ensure that this didn’t happen in future.

A council spokesman said: “This is not actually a footpath. It is a ‘service margin’ - a strip approximately one metre wide designed to house utility services along its length.

“The reason it has a hard surface, which is clearly what is causing the confusion, is that in our experience where service margins have had turf coverings, they get destroyed by car wheels etc, and we advise developers accordingly.

“The light column is the last thing to go in, so there are limited options as to where it can be placed.

“We do appreciate the confusion this has caused, and we’re looking at ways in which we remedy this for future developments.”