WEST Sussex County Council has moved to allay the fears of residents of the historic core of Midhurst who have been appalled by the appearance of black tarmac outside the church.
A spokesman for WSCC said the colour would be changed to a permanent grey before work ended.
James Gold who lives nearby on Church Hill said: “What was the point spending all this time and money on the square when someone does this?
And Midhurst’s local historian Bridget Howard added: “I am appalled by the damage which is being inflicted.
“The re-paving in progress is a great improvement on the former potholes but adjacent to it new and offensive black tarmacadam has been imposed in the centre of a conservation area.”
Damage to the roadway on the west side of the church was begun by the county council’s highways department some years ago and has now reached an unacceptable climax.
The first step was to remove the historic cobbles and insert new paving stones.
Many of these have now been replaced by dreadful black tarmacadam.
“I understand the reason was that the churchyard wall was listed and might be damaged if the paving stones moved.
“Firstly, the wall is not listed. Secondly, WSCC had already paved part of the adjacent length.
“Thirdly, the tarmacadam has been laid on a solid concrete foundation – so much for the potential movement of the wall.
A spokesman for WSCC said: “This work is still on-going.
“We had permission for the black tarmac from the national park authority and these plans have been public for some time.
“The first reason we could not use York Stone paving was because it would have undermined the structural stability of the historic church wall, which would have led to its collapse.
“The second was that there is a shallow gas pipe running underneath the pavement.
“The third reason was York Stone would have caused difficulties for hearses arriving at funerals.”