AN HISTORIC passageway, believed to have been used by Jane Austen, will no longer be freely accessible to the public.
Library Place, which connects Warwick Street and Marine Parade and runs through the Stagecoach bus station, is to be “stopped up” on the grounds it is a health and safety risk.
The twitten dates back to the 1790s and is believed to have been used by Jane Austen while she stayed at Stanford Cottage, in Warwick Street, in 1805.
The decision was made by the Department for Transport following a public inquiry held at the Chatsworth Hotel in April this year, in which Stagecoach called for it to be closed to the public.
However, Stagecoach has said visits to the twitten will be available by appointment with the company.
Chris Sandrawich, from the Jane Austen Society, said: “Stagecoach, are saying that they are only able to accommodate occasional group visits by prior arrangement and nothing on a regular basis.
“At the moment, interest in Jane Austen is high and numbers of visitors to UK sites of interest are rising, not falling.
“Some 60,000 people visited Bath in a year, 30,000 to Chawton and 20,000 to Winchester Cathedral – and these last two sites are 50 to 60 miles and one hour’s drive from Worthing.
“So the mention of even a small percentage of these visitors descending upon a working bus station would possibly lead to an adverse reaction from Stagecoach.”
Back in April, the public inquiry heard from Stagecoach’s regional managing director, Andrew Dyer, who said fatal accidents in Eastbourne and Chichester had been a “wake-up call to the industry” to be more health and safety aware.
According to a report from the Department for Transport, gates already in place at Stagecoach’s station will be open between 5.30am and midnight, but public access will be “actively deterred” under the new order.
Library Place and the twitten will be used for access by Stagecoach and there are no plans for the company to sell the site, the report added.