Residents Associations provide a vital role in protecting and enhancing the communities which they represent. The Pallant area in Chichester is suffering from the increase in heavy traffic within the City and this article by resident and Society member Cedric Mitchell describes the birth of this new association.
(The article – along with others – appeared in the June 2016 issue of the Chichester Society Newsletter )
First a bit of background. Why are the Pallants important? They are at the historic and cultural centre of Chichester. The origins of the Pallants dates back to at least the middle ages when the South East sector of the city belonged to the Church. Originally named the Palatine (from the word palatial) the name became corrupted to the Pallants and consisted of the four streets we have now.
Paving the Way to Today
In 1578 the streets of Chichester were paved under an Act of Parliament. In the eighteenth century Chichester went through something of a renaissance and many houses in the Pallants were gentrified. Among the houses built at this time was Dodo House which was built for Henry Peckam, a wine merchant, in 1712. This is of course now the Pallant Gallery. Since then it has continued to be an area for wealthy merchants and professional people. Today probably a majority of the buildings in the Pallants are listed grade II and all four Pallants have historic paving. The Pallants are also a conservation area.
Problems with Trade Deliveries
Although not a shopping street, the Pallants are one of the things that people come to Chichester to see and the area is very much on the City guide route. In the 1970’s East Street and North Street were pedestrianised and much thought was given to servicing the shops in these streets. East Street was to be served from a back area leading off Cooper Street and a similar arrangement was put in place for North Street. Additionally deliveries to premises in these streets could easily be made out of shopping hours.
In general this has worked well, but in recent years two things have happened. Overtime working gave rise to deliveries out of hours and 40ft articulated lorries were not envisaged when the pedestrian area was born. As a result of this we now have a situation where these large lorries attempt to use the Pallants to service shops in East Street. A second problem is that ‘sat navs’ misdirect drivers thinking that there is a through route. This has resulted in 40ft articulated lorries having to make a three point turn or else reverse the length of North and South Pallant.
Not only is this upsetting for the residents (in some of the smaller properties there are bedroom windows on a level with the driver’s cab) but it results in considerable damage to the listed buildings in the street as well as causing damage to the historic paving, to say nothing of the inevitable damage to parked cars.
I brought the continuing damage caused to buildings and pavements to the attention of the Chichester Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CCAAC). Alan Green, Chairman of the CCAAC wrote several strong letters to the leader of West Sussex Council. This produced words of sympathy but no action or solutions. As a result it was suggested that the residents might see better results if complaints came from an official body.
Formation of the Residents Association
So in January 2016 an inaugural meeting of the proposed Pallants Residents Association was held at which Tony Earl agreed to Chair the Association. The other Officers (as of June 2016) are Catherine Gunn Treasurer, Rowena Daniels Secretary and myself as Vice Chairman. A further meeting held on 7 March was attended by over 40 residents at which the Officers were confirmed. Alan Green was invited to give a talk on the history of the Pallants.
Since the Residents Association was formed several successes have been achieved. Notably a meeting was held with the Transport manager of Iceland Foods (who were one of the worst offenders) which resulted in strict instructions being given to their drivers not to enter South Pallant. Better signage from the South Pallant car park has also been achieved.
Less successful have been negotiations with West Sussex County Council to adopt preventative measures to protect buildings and pavements. The fight goes on.
The setting up of the residents association has also had wider benefits to the streets. It has instilled a much greater sense of community and further social activities are planned for the future.
Cedric Mitchell, June 2016