Road safety fear over Devizes Canoe Club's planned new base
4:30pm Friday 4th July 2014 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
Residents living by Lower Wharf are worried the narrow road will not cope with traffic going to Devizes Canoe Club’s proposed new base and could be dangerous to pedestrians.
Wiltshire Council has agreed to transfer a depot used by its parking enforcement staff at the far end of Lower Wharf to the canoe club, which has submitted plans for a change of use and to build a boat store.
Several residents objected to the plan.
Lower Wharf is off Northgate Street and goes past the side of the Assize Courts. The access down Lower Wharf affects residents in Cyprus Terrace and Dundas Court.
Eva Stanford, of Cyprus Terrace, said: “We have to use the back access from our house and it’s dangerous as it is.”
Becky Herd, another resident of Cyprus Terrace, said: “Lower Wharf is busy enough already. The access is terrible, it’s very narrow and there’s a blind bend.”
Boaters have also expressed concern at the club’s plans, which involve creating a launching site at the edge of the Kennet and Avon Canal. This will result in boat owner Mark Branson losing his mooring there.
Mr Branson, 57, of Sheep Street, Devizes, said: “I’m completely happy for the canoe club to have a base but not at my expense. I have had my mooring for eight or nine years and if the Canal & River Trust are going to throw me off my mooring they should offer me a substitute.”
Carol Krebs, of Stockley, who has a boat mooring near to Mr Branson, has sent a petition to Wiltshire Council signed by 80 people objecting to the creation of a slipway at Lower Wharf. She said there are two adequate slipways at the main Wharf.
Both Ms Krebs and Mr Branson are concerned that the work to the canal bank will destroy the water vole habitat.
Mark Bouch, vice-chairman of Devizes Canoe Club, said the club believes the sight lines from Lower Wharf on to Northgate Street are navigable with or without a trailer. He said that at peak times the club’s two trailers would be moved in and out one day a week.
He said: “There will be four parking spaces for the club. The assumption is the vast majority of members will store their boats at the site and use a public car park. We are not proposing to create a slipway, but a launching point. There’s no intention of the canoe club doing anything that is contrary to wildlife.”
Devizes Town Council’s planning committee deferred making a decision two weeks ago after hearing residents’ concerns and asked for further information about the traffic management plan.
The town council’s planning committee met on Tuesday night and said they were satisfied with the plan and made no objections.
Councillor Sue Evans, also a Wiltshire councillor, said: “I feel if the canoe club and the residents work together I am sure they can resolve the concerns.”
The plan will be decided by Wiltshire Council.
A Canal & River Trust spokesman, said: “We do understand Mr Branson’s concerns. However, under the terms of his 12-month contract for the mooring there is no automatic right of renewal and from time to time we do have to make changes.
“We’ve offered Mr Branson an alternative mooring. While the cost of this is higher than what he currently pays, it is consistent with prices along the Kennet & Avon. We’ve also offered a discount for the first year, should he choose to take up the option.
“It’s always a difficult decision not to renew a mooring. However in this instance, given the potential benefits of having a purpose built publically accessible canoeing facility in the area, we feel we have got the balance right.”
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