Anti-social behaviour has prompted Lancaster University to apply for planning permission to gate off part of the Lancaster Canal towpath.
The university said the plans for Chancellor’s Wharf, opposite the Water Witch pub, would give students a sense of security, but would not be locked to the public.
Green Party councillors in the city say they are objecting to the plans, and have pointed to a legal agreement requiring the main route through the site to be maintained at all times, and the canal-side route around the two other accommodation units from sunrise until sunset.
Lancaster University says the proposal helps to support Lancaster City Council’s Public Spaces Protection Order 2016.
A spokeswoman said: “Chancellor’s Wharf has unfortunately witnessed a number of anti-social behaviour instances. Safety is a priority for us and we would like to try and reduce this behaviour in the future.
“The university will continue to provide the public with a full right of access across the site and it will be fully accessible. The aim of the boundary is purely to define the Chancellor’s Wharf student residences and give students a sense of security. Pedestrian users and the general public will be encouraged to follow a footpath across the site providing a much safer route. The aim of the gated access points is to encourage children and cyclists who cross the site to demount as they cross the car park. This will protect them from possible collision with moving vehicles.
It should be noted that the main entrance into the site will remain open with no barrier control and the gates on the planning application will be worded ‘gated access’ rather than ‘security gate’ and will not be locked to the public.”
Castle Ward Green Coun Dave Brookes said: “These footpaths link the canal towpath to the south end of the city centre, and they are well-used and need to be preserved.
“Sending people up the steep ramp or steps by Basin Bridge will not work for older people and those with disabilities. At the other end of the site people will be forced to cross Aldcliffe Road at a dangerous point opposite Queen Street.
“I understand that the university has had some problems with antisocial behavior by some street drinkers.
“However, Chancellor’s Wharf is inside the boundary of the City Centre Public Space Protection Order, so there are other ways that the problem could be tackled without closing the area to the law-abiding public.”