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Council has a possible solution to Orange's footpath shortage - user pays half

August 16, 2022

The foothpath ends in North Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

The lack of footpaths in parts of Orange is a talking point in the city, generally among those who don’t have footpaths.

These are the people required to walk, cycle, jog, run, scoot or push a pram on the road, sharing it with cars, trucks and buses. Or risk their ankles on often bumpy, uneven surfaces in the place where a footpath would usually be.

Orange City Council staff have advised councillors that under the Local Government Act residents can be charged 50 percent of the cost of building a footpath out the front of their houses.

Councillor Melanie McDonell was elected in December, in part on the back of her promise to push for more footpaths.

According to council minutes, she raised the issue earlier this month in an infrastructure committee meeting, seeking information on how the new footpaths were prioritised, “particularly where some areas are having footpaths renewed or installed on both sides of street, where other areas have none at all”.

The director technical services told councillors high use areas close to the CBD and schools received preference on having footpaths on both sides of the road.

“Council often gets requests for both sides, but it does not always mean this will happen,” the minutes stated.

McDonell noted some areas had not had footpaths for many years, and sought advice on how to best advocate for those areas.

Uneven surface where a footpath would go. This estate in North Orange was built about 30 years ago. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The director development services noted that developers today had to make contributions for footpaths.

The Shiralee developers were required to install footpaths as it developed the land, the minutes stated.

Councillors were told that “there are mechanisms under The Local Government Act to charge 50 percent cost to landowner. This is something we currently do not do however it is available if council wished to extend its footpath budget further”.

McDonell told The Orange News Examiner that “council has been doing a great job with rolling out more footpaths in the last few years, but there were many years before that where next to nothing was done, so it's a massive game of catch up now”.

One of the newer stretches of footpath in Orange. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

She said that when you buy a house in a city such as Orange “you expect to have a footpath out the front of your house”.

A decision by a previous council to remove a requirement for developers to pay into a footpath fund - later overturned - was “stupid”, she said.

“Because who’s going to cough up for a footpath out the front of their house? People are already complaining about rates.”

The councillor has had personal experience with footpaths - or precisely, lack of footpaths.

“It didn’t go down well with me several years ago when I enquired about [getting a footpath outside my house]. I said, ‘You’re kidding me? [Paying 50 percent] might be an option but no-one is going to take you up on it’. It’s not practical or logical.”

The Orange News Examiner has sought comment from the director technical services.

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