IMPROVE ACCESS: Penshaw Monument footpath works
Penshaw Monument (October, 2021)
Plans for further footpath works at Penshaw Monument to improve access for visitors have been given the green light.
A scheme of footpath works previously took place at the site in 2020 to improve pedestrian access to the Grade I-listed local treasure, alongside drainage improvements.
In August 2021, a new application from the National Trust was lodged proposing additional works to the lower section of steps.
According to a supporting statement submitted with the plans, the works aimed to “reduce the steepness and gradient for visitors” and were “considered necessary in the lower half of the footpath.”
The statement reads: “In 2021 following concerns from visitors about the steepness of two sections of the steps, a minor operation was undertaken to nine of the steps which halved their incline by putting extra steps in between (so doubling the amount of steps) and then levelling the gradient in between the treads.
“This has improved accessibility and now, similarly, this application seeks to introduce additional steps to around 20 within the lower half of the footpath.
“Given the number of steps involved it has been confirmed by officers that this triggers a new planning application for consideration.”
Following a period of consultation, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved the plans on Thursday, October 7.
The materials used for the steps are expected to be the same ‘carboniferous limestone chippings’ as used across the path to the summit.
Minor regrading works will also take place to the path edges which will be grass seeded upon completion.
The supporting statement from the National Trust goes on to say: “The planning application seeks to introduce limited further works to the recently improved footpath to Penshaw Monument.
“The scale and extent of the proposal has been kept to a minimum, carefully balancing the needs and expectations of visitors with the need to conserve and enhance the natural and historic environment.
“It is considered entirely consistent with national and local policy and the proposal will continue to support the visitor experience of the estate.”
The National Trust manages Penshaw Monument and the site providing open free access to visitors which, planning documents state, are estimated to be in the region of 60,000 annually.
Under planning conditions, the latest phase of footpath works must commence on site within the next three years.
For more information on the application, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search planning reference: 21/01902/FUL
Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter
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