Town councillors voted to support the installation of a rainbow crossing outside the civic hall in Totnes as part of the Market Square redevelopment, which will begin later this year.
Talks will now begin with South Hams District Council in its capacity as the landowner and planning authority.
Representatives of the Proud2Be group have been pushing for Totnes to become the first town in Europe to have a permanent multicoloured crossing as a show of support for the LGBT community.
Their efforts follow on from the success of a temporary rainbow crossing created during the 2014 Pride event.
However, the plans ran into problems in November, when district councillors and members of the South Hams Highways and Traffic Orders Committee said they could not support a rainbow crossing on the highway for safety reasons.
Despite this, they signalled their support for a crossing located near the town hall instead.
Now Totnes Town Council has voted, with three abstentions, to support the proposal, which will form part of Market Square’s phased redevelopment.
Max Price, of Proud2Be, said: “We’re delighted with the latest development in Proud2Be’s campaign for a rainbow crossing to be installed in the heart of Totnes.
“At the end of last year, we carried out a survey with LGBT+ young people in Devon – 84 per cent of respondents told us that they had thought about harming themselves.“We were understandably shocked by these findings and were reminded of how important visible signs of hope continue to be for those who may be feeling isolated, disenfranchised and discriminated against. “We’d like to thank the town councillors who continue to support the work we do throughout the year to ensure that Totnes is a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for everybody.”Cllr Louise Webberley told this week’s town council meeting: “I wholeheartedly support the idea of a permanent rainbow crossing in the town. Totnes is known as a place of diversity and inclusivity and this would send a clear message that we support the LGBT community.”Cllr Tony Whitty said: “It would be a great asset to the town and would integrate well into the designs for Market Square.”Cllr Robert Vint told councillors he fully supported the project, adding: “We’ve found a solution that won’t cause any legal or planning problems.”The rainbow crossing will be located on the ramp outside the civic hall, so there will be no possibility of confusion or ambiguity, which is why the district councillors were against the project. At last November’s meeting of SHDC, Highways manager John Fewings said: “We had some concerns about a crossing on the highway, as the markings could be seen as ambiguous and people might not be sure what it was. For us, the best solution is not to not put it on the highway.”Cllr Roger Croad, chairman of the South Hams HATOC, told the November meeting: “A crossing on a road would cause confusion – and the thought of interfering with the highway, I’m completely against it.”Cllr Julian Brazil added that the committee should send a strong message that allowing a rainbow crossing on the road should not be allowed, but that a crossing in the civic square should be favoured.At this week’s meeting of Totnes Town Council, Cllr Pip Paine reiterated the safety concerns expressed by Cllrs Croad and Brazil, but town mayor Cllr Judy Westacott responded: “Where it’s to be situated, it will be obvious that it’s not an actual crossing.”This led some councillors questioning whether the description “rainbow crossing” remains relevant, or whether it should now be called a “rainbow feature”.The principle of a rainbow crossing has attracted the support of Totnes MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who posted on the Proud2Be website: “I support the campaign for a permanent rainbow crossing in Totnes as a symbol of our town’s support for diversity.”Alan Salt, principal of King Edward VI Community College, said: “It will help remind us all that, as a community, we value diversity.”Vancouver in Canada already has a permanent rainbow crossing. Vancouver City councillor Tim Stevenson said: “Our crosswalk has become well-known in our city in the past two years and is seen as a proud symbol of our diversity.”Posting on Proud2Be’s website, Gerard from Leicester made the point that “visibility helps vulnerable people”.Kristine from Luxembourg posted: “I would love to see these everywhere. I used to live in Lancaster and Brighton, and generally this would brighten anyone’s day, besides being a strong symbol for equality. The world would, hopefully, embrace and copy it everywhere.”Cllr Georgina Allen told her fellow town councillors that the rainbow crossing could become a point of attraction for tourists.County councillor, Totnes and Dartington division, Jacqi Hodgson said: “This is meaningful. I hope it will lead to other rainbows around town, maybe rainbows either side of crossings.”Earlier fears that the rainbow might not fit with the Market Square aesthetic appear to have been forgotten as Totnes voted to celebrate the full spectrum of diversity in the town and send out a message to LGBTQIA+ people in Devon and beyond that they are not alone.