The Chichester City Council, together with the residents of Chichester, are in the process of preparing a Chichester Neighbourhood Plan. The Plan can include planning policies,
infrastructure projects, and aspirations. They have produced a document Southern Gateway: Road opportunities Chichester Neighbourhood Plan – Background document which examines how the local road network could be improved in the vicinity of the Southern Gateway redevelopment area. It follows on from public consultation through which residents expressed support for a bridge or underpass across the Basin Road level crossing and for re-routing cars out of the city centre.
The document sets out the existing situation with city centre highway routing and four options: Firstly, the two preferred options for highways changes that CDC is considering making, namely
– reducing the southern gyratory to one lane (option 10)
– building a new link road through the city centre (option 11)
Secondly, the City Council’s new options
– redirecting cars out of the city centre, pedestrianizing Southgate (option 12), and
– as above with an underpass at Basin Road level crossing (option 13)
There is also the option to stay as we are (options 0)
The options are out for consultation – to express a choice or add a comment go to here.
Chichester District Council has selected its preferred development partner, Henry Boot Developments, to deliver the Southern Gateway regeneration project. There has been a delay in the developer publishing their proposal for the Redevelopment and this has provided the opportunity for the Society to bring to their attention “The Height Limited Underpass “, proposed by the Society as a solution to the level crossing problem which blights the Southern Gateway.
This they did in a letter to the developer on 22 June in which they noted that Chichester District Council had concluded with their Regeneration Master-Plan that there was nothing that could be done to remove the crossings despite the public response in the consultation, and in other surveys, that the crossings should be removed.
The letter also referred to the Society’s disappointment at Chichester District Council’s handling of the consultation process as expressed in the Society’s March 2018 Newsletter in the article “Consult, then carry on regardless”. They also referred the developer to 3 articles -”Southern Gateway- A Better Solution”, “A Height Limited Underpass” and “Introducing The Forum Quarter” (the Gateway+ proposal which the Society supported) in the December 2018 issue.
The Society urged the developer, the District Council, West Sussex Council and Network Rail to take this ultimate opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past.
More details of the proposed underpass can be found on this website here
A Book review by David Wilson of “The Street Names of Chichester” published by Chichester City Council 978-0-9542252-2-3. Available from the Council House, £4.95
Although first published in 1996 (authored by Ken Green) and revised in 2008 by Guy Clifford and Helen Monckton, this is a surprisingly little-known book that provides an excellent guide to the street names of Chichester.
It is not just about the ancient street names, though some of these reveal unexpected sidelights on the development of the City, but follows through on modern names which we pass every day in the estates and side streets without a second thought. Many of these have been inspired by personalities and events in Chichester’s past and taken together, form an alternative and informative history of the City.
North/South/East/West streets are indeed ancient and have an obvious origin (Sussex towns seem to have a penchant for naming streets after points of the compass!), but some of the oldest names are less obvious. Broyle Road dates back to a Brullius, or hunting park, granted to Bishop Neville by Henry III in 1229. St Pancras is named for the church which itself dates to before 1309. That may be named after either a saint who gained converts in Taormina, Sicily in 40 AD, or a 14-year-old boy in Rome canonised after beheading for his conversion to Christianity, but what are either doing here?
St Pancras; Fitting that a Roman saint should be remembered by a Roman road
As for the obscure saints who have streets in Chichester, St. Cyriac and St Rumbold, you will have to read the book!
Many people asked to indulge in some free association between Chichester and history will start by thinking of the Cathedral and its bishops. Indeed some 20-odd bishops and deans are commemorated by street names. Bishop Luffa will be familiar to most through both a Close and the nearby school – but how many realise that the road running through the middle of that estate, Sherborne Road, is not named after the Dorset town, but after Bishop Sherborne who was appointed in 1508?
Sherborne Road; Bishop Sherborne was noted for his patronage of learning – perhaps the school should be named after him instead?
The whole of that area reads like a complete roll call of church history in Sussex, but there are a few bishops to be found elsewhere. Mount Lane is not named for a hill but after Archdeacon Mount, appointed 1887. (Challenge: can you name the other road which suggests a hill in Chichester, but is actually named after a bishop?)
After the bishops come the Mayors. A similar number of roads are named after Mayors of Chichester, and again, mostly on estates which have taken up this theme. The earliest mayors, for some reason, appear on the Whyke estate, going back as far as William Taverner who was in office in 1249. Most of the other streets named after Mayors used to appear on the Orlit estate – the explanation of Orlit, named after the prefabs there, is in the book but you have to search for it – and that area now forms part of Swanfield. Redevelopment has caused a purge of Mayors there, though some names still appear on older street maps. The only ‘surviving mayor’ in Swanfield is Bradshaw Road, Elisha Bradshaw having been Mayor in 1536 though newer roads such as Seddon Close (James Seddon, 1972) have been named after more recent mayors.
Bradshaw Road; This is in Swanfield – for other medieval mayors you will have to go to Whyke
Many street names properly commemorate benefactors, often Mayors, who provided for the welfare of Cicestrians, including almshouses (Cawley Road), schools (Oliver Whitby Road; one of the few where the Christian name is included), simply money (Juxon Close) and day centres (Tozer Way).
Cawley Road; John Cawley, the father was Mayor three times and founded the almshouses in Broyle
Service to the city is also included as at Silverlock Close; Fanny Silverlock was a leading figure in the Guides and is one of the few women to be remembered in a street name.
Other themed names which link to the city’s history also turn up in appropriate locations. The military are present at Roussillon Park and the pioneers of mental health at Graylingwell (but see below for more on these). There are also medical names – Bostock and Baxendale – tucked away behind St Richard’s Hospital and Forbes Place by the former Royal West Sussex Hospital where Dr Forbes was the first superintendent. On a broader theme it is obvious that all the roads in the East Broyle Estate to the North West of the City are named after English cathedral cities – but the challenge is to find all 17 cities whose names were used (including the one omitted from the book!) and then to name the 25 who were not chosen. There is no indication as to why Carlisle and Truro are included but not, say, Ripon and Portsmouth.
East Broyle; A view of the cathedral from Wells Crescent on the so-called Cathedral Estate
Ordinary people have made their bid for immortality, though, mostly those who built the houses now standing there. Some of these names seem to record a family compromise – Winden Avenue = Winifred + Dennis. And one which has always puzzled me personally – Velyn Avenue – turns out to be named for the builder’s daughter Evelyn.
Velyn Avenue; Evelyn was the daughter of Mr Keates, the builder hereabouts
In the same area there are names from northern France commemorating the death in WW1 of the brother of Frederick Keates, the builder.
There are also many examples of streets being named for their uses. Pubs come top of this list with the oldest being Crane Street, recorded in 1277, and thought to be named for an inn there. But there are also examples of names remembering market gardens, ironworks, transport and quarries. Perhaps the oddest, which I thought must be apocryphal until I saw it in print, is the story of how a select part of Summersdale came to have a set of roads named after drain covers!
This review has spilt the beans on perhaps 5% of the examples in the book. That should surely be an incentive to buy it and discover more examples of Chichester’s history all around you!
However, there are new streets which have been built since the book was published in 2008, and if you do the ‘Green Spaces in Chichester’ walk described in the September 2020 Society Newsletter, you will pass some of these.
In the Roussillon Park development off Broyle Road the older roads are named after Colonels of the Royal Sussex Regiment which used the barracks from 1873 onwards, and of Generals who had raised regiments which became incorporated into the Royal Sussex. These names appear in the book. Some of the newer roads, on the south side of the Square, have been named after men of the Royal Sussex who were awarded the Victoria Cross:
Carter Road: to honour Company Sergeant-Major Nelson Victor Carter VC (1887-1916)
When serving with the 12th Battalion at the Boar’s Head, Richebourg l’Avoue, France, he led a successful attack inflicting casualties and capturing a machine gun. Later he carried several wounded men to safety before being mortally wounded himself. The award of the Victoria Cross was for his most conspicuous bravery.
Looking along Carter Road with Johnson Mews on the right
Johnson Mews: to honour Major-General Dudley Johnson VC, CB, DSO, MC(1884-1975)
When commanding the 2nd Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment he successfully led them in forcing a crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal in France in 1918. An officer on secondment from the South Wales Borderers, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous bravery and leadership.
McNair Way: to honour Captain Eric Archibald McNair VC (1894-1918)
In February 1916, an enemy mine exploded under the front-line trenches held by the 9th Battalion. Although much shaken, he at once organised his men and with a machine gun team drove off the advancing enemy. Then, across open ground and under heavy fire, he brought forward reinforcements. The award of the Victoria Cross was for his most conspicuous bravery.
Queripel Mews: to honour Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel VC (1920-1944)
At the Battle of Arnhem, when serving with The Parachute Regiment, he rescued a wounded Sergeant and was wounded himself. He led an attack on a strongpoint and re-captured a British anti-tank gun. Later as his company position became untenable, he ordered his men to withdraw but stayed behind to give them covering fire. The award of the Victoria Cross was for his courage, leadership, and inspiration to all.
In the expanding Graylingwell development to the North East of the City the following new streets can be noted.
Lloyd Road is named for Robert Lloyd, horticulturist and Head Gardener at Brookwood Asylum, who designed the gardens and especially the ‘airing courts’ for Graylingwell and other asylums as healing spaces.
Connolly Way is named for John Conolly (he spelt his name with one ‘n’, unlike the road), a Victorian psychiatrist who with Lord Shaftesbury drafted the Lunacy Act of 1853 which shifted the treatment of the insane from restraint to medicine. He practised in Chichester about 1820 at the outset of his career and in 1839 became Superintendent of the Hanwell Asylum where he was able to apply principles, it being the first major asylum to dispose of all mechanical restraints. His son Edward was born in Chichester, but emigrated to New Zealand where as lawyer and politician he was able to institute his father’s principles of rehabilitation to the New Zealand penal system.
Conolly Way is the southern boundary of Havenstoke Park
Just off the route of the ‘Green Spaces in Chicester’ walk, the newest part of the estate is Anna Sewell Way. Anna Sewell was born in 1820 in Norfolk and lived at ‘Grayling Well House’ the farmhouse to the east of the asylum, from 1853 to 1858. She was unmarried and lived with her parents; her father was manager of ‘The London And County Bank’, a forerunner of and on the site of the Natwest Bank in East Street. She only published her famous children’s novel, Black Beauty, much later, in 1877 a few months before her death in Norwich.
Anna Sewell Way is between the former asylum and the hospital, not at all close to the farmhouse where she lived
Longley Road which winds through the centre of the main buildings recalls the builders of the original asylum, James Longley of Crawley, established 1863 and who continued in business until taken over by Kier Group for £1 in 2000.
This review came to be written because my wife and I have been doing walks in Chichester during lockdown rather than getting the car out to go further afield. The result will appear in a ‘Green Spaces in Chichester’ walk to appear in the September 2020 edition of the Chichester Society newsletter.
I had intended to include something about street names in notes to go with the walk but found too much material to be included there. Part of the way through the research I discovered that the City Council had published the book reviewed above, doing a much more thorough job than I could hope to do. Hence the review.
The Chichester Vision, outlined in the District Council’s publication ‘Chichester Tomorrow‘ envisages open spaces, places to rest and pedestrianised areas with space for eating out, art and performance, and other leisure activities. Those visiting our City often welcome areas to sit outside – whether for a coffee, more formal al fresco dining or because they can’t smoke inside the adjoining establishment.
However, to provide some of these facilities comes at a cost as it is a legal requirement of West Sussex County Council for businesses to have a licence for tables and chairs positioned on the highway, including pavements – and they have to adhere to various terms and conditions. The Council has apparently recorded a significant rise in complaints due to the increase in tables and needs to assess each location for its suitability.
As of January 2020 the annual fee for placing tables and chairs on the highway is £520. However, the price is subject to change each financial year and the Council has initiated a consultation which closes on 24 February with a decision due March 2020.
John Templeton explains why your Society supports these proposals
Although the Local Plan for Chichester District was adopted in 2015 the Government has instructed it must be reviewed to address the ‘Objectively Assessed Need’ for yet more housing. Last winter Chichester District Council (CDC) consulted on revisions to the Local Plan that included a new Strategic Site Allocation for greenfield land south west of Stockbridge, between the Chichester bypass and Chichester Harbour. This has set alarm bells ringing loudly!
The Council’s proposal is to develop about 85 hectares of which around 35 hectares would be for employment uses, plus at least 100 new homes and a country park. Also included is a new road link from the A27 Fishbourne (aka Tesco) roundabout to the A286 Birdham Road, south of Stockbridge. The plan below shows an outline route for this road based on a transport study by Peter Brett Associates commissioned by CDC.
To the surprise of some of our members the Society supported this proposal. Whilst we have long argued that priority for new housing should be on brownfield land within the city itself we can see many benefits that could arise from this new proposal, and which we outline below.
Link road benefits
Firstly, a link road to Stockbridge would not only serve the new developments but would provide an additional link to the towns and villages on the Manhood Peninsular and at the same time reduce congestion and pollution at Stockbridge and the dangerous rat-run of Apuldram Lane.
Some 15 years ago CDC commissioned a major landscape strategy of all potential development land surrounding the city. It was published in 2005 as The Future Growth of Chichester: Landscape and Visual Amenity Considerations. Areas assessed around the city included fields west of Stockbridge near to Chichester Harbour. Land close to Stockbridge was found to be of poor quality with gappy hedgerows and no views of the cathedral or of the Downs. But to the west, medieval field boundaries still existed with mature trees and hedgerows forming part of the rural setting of both the city and the hamlet of Apuldram, with distant views of the cathedral spire and the Downs beyond.
Rural gap benefits
It is therefore essential that a new link road, well screened with trees and hedgerows, must form the western limit to any extension to Stockbridge, with land to the west retained as a rural gap between the city and the harbour. It should be carefully landscaped as meadows, indeed maybe water meadows because much of it is in a flood-risk area, with the meandering river Lavant (when it flows!) contributing to the proposed wildlife corridor between the Harbour and the Downs. At present the only access to this land is a poorly defined public footpath between the city and the harbour, with a footbridge over the railway to Terminus Road and a highly dangerous crossing of the dual carriageway A27 bypass. This is the shortest walk from the city to the sea, but please don’t risk your life even wearing a high-viz jacket! This route should be upgraded as a footpath/ cycleway with a pedestrian bridge over the bypass, also connecting to the new development (a case for Section 106 Planning gain?).
Housing and employment benefits
As for the development itself, the most obvious location for housing would be towards the southern end, close to Stockbridge to benefit from the shops and community facilities already there, as well as the quarter hour bus service along the Birdham Road. Further north, towards the A27, well designed employment development could take place, which would attract new firms to the city. Creating new employment north of Stockbridge would also enable vacant or underused sites on the city’s industrial estates at Terminus Road and Quarry Lane to be reallocated for much needed affordable housing within walking distance of the city centre.
Agreeing a master plan
Unlike other major greenfield developments underway which could provide no benefits to the existing city, this new proposal for south west Chichester if properly planned will have major benefits. It is however essential that the community is involved in the drawing up of an agreed master plan and that this is adhered to as the development progresses. The devil will be is in the detail!
(This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of the Society’s Newsletter)
Robin Hamilton updates readers about the Gateway+ development campaign
This is an update on the Gateway + campaign to offer a dynamic alternative to the Southern Gateway proposal by Chichester District Council (CDC). We see the Gateway+ proposal more as a development of the CDC initiative rather than an alternative. The recognition of the need to develop the southern part of Chichester is in no doubt. It is how this opportunity should be grasped is where we differ.
Please support this initative – we welcome comments added to this post
How we came this far
You may well have seen our previous articles aboutGateway + but in case you didn’t, here is a short synopsisof the history of Gateway+. Early in 2018 a small groupof local residents met to discuss the recently publishedproposals for the Southern Gateway. They felt that CDC’sproposals did not go nearly far enough consideringthis is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do somethingin Chichester that will be a lasting memory of ourgeneration. After some research into what residents andbusinesses would like to happen in this part of Chichesterthe group organised a presentation in Pallant HouseGallery in June last year. The reception by those who attended, and the general public since then, has beenvery encouraging – particularly from the younger peopleof Chichester!
Since then the Gateway+ proposals have been honed to the outline plans we have today.
In summary, we propose a development that would create an Exhibition/ Conference Hall of 100,000 square feet. This would be capable of holding medium sized exhibitions, concerts and performances seating around 2,500 people. We are naming this cultural centre The Forum to hint at the city’s Roman history. Alongside The Forum we propose a 250-bedroom Forum Hotel while in front of The Forum would be a large open area for temporary stalls and socialising named the Forum Square. Our research shows there is a need for some small business starter units with accommodation above which we suggest could be built to the west called the Forum Village. Gateway+ foresees this might develop into Chichester’s Silicon Valley. Finally, we have learnt that NHS England would like to provide a new medical centre for primary care, and Gateway+ proposes a new building currently called The Forum Lozenge which might be renamed the Forum Medical Centre. Our suggested layout can be understoodin the aerial street plan below.
We also understand Network Rail would very much like to consider developing the station and create at least one more platform so that they would have the opportunity to run a metro line between Chichester and Bognor, which would be a vital ingredient to reducing traffic along the A27 and A259. Indeed, the University would also very much like this because their two campuses are served by buses at the moment. Our proposal suggests a new station with high level concourse to house the ticket office and shops with escalators down to the platform. This would also serve to link the Forum to the Southern Leisure Park.
Replace the level crossings
Gateway+ proposals also tackle one of the most contentious issues on the south side of Chichester, which are the level crossings. We propose that both crossings should be removed and replaced with a two-way underpass at Basin Road sufficient in height for single decker buses to pass. Some believe this is not possible, but we have consulted at least two engineers who confirm it is indeed technically achievable.
Simplify the road layout
Gateway+ proposals also provide a solution to the currently chaotic road layout which causes appalling delays and serious environmental problems. As part of this revised layout a new Transport Hub would be situated between the Ave de Chartres Car Park and The Forum, where buses, taxis, coaches, and maybe electric mini trams could operate.
Chichester’s changed political context
As you will all now know there has been a seismic shift in CDC’s political balance after the May local elections. The previous Gateway+ proposals were not adequately received by the previous council whose Masterplan is now well out of date and does not deal with the problems faced by Chichester and its inhabitants. Gateway+ now hopes to promote our ideas to the newly elected council members and we have indeed had very supportive comments from many of those now representing us all. We are particularly encouraged by the support of all parties after recent discussions. We are aware that CDC is assessing interest from developers to their Southern Gateway Master Plan based on a development brief sent out in April 2019. We also understand that Council officers are not fixed on the current proposals and if Councillors or any other parties wish to suggest other schemes, they will take these into account. We see the Gateway+ job is to make sure all Councillors are aware of our ideas so they can reach a much bolder proposal for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance what Chichester has to offer.
Please help Gateway+
We ask you to consider helping in the following ways:
Contact your councillor and ask them to support Gateway+
Discuss Southern Gateway with your friends and encourage them to do the same thing • Let us have your email address so we can keep you informed.
Consider contributing a small amount (say, £10) to our campaign. You can find out details of how to contribute on our website whose address is: http://www.gateway-plus.co.uk/about.
We plan to have a further meeting in the City to update everyone on our campaign. We hope we can count on your support and do get in touch if you wold like more information or would like to get more involved with Gateway+.
We need funds to accelerate our publicity so that we create a groundswell for these ideas. Our intention is to spread the word far and wide so we cannot be ignored by those who will finally make the decision of what is to happen to Chichester’s so-called Southern Gateway.
(This article originally appeared in the September 2019 edition of the Society’s Newsletter)
The Chichester proposed parking management plan went out for consultation earlier this year and related to the earlier Roadspace Audit study which can be found here.
The study included various recommendations relating to parking and it to these that the Chichester Society has responded. Members of the Chichester Society’s Executive Committee visited the various displays and discussed the substance of the study. Their response has been submitted and can be found here.
(RSA image and main text on this page sourced from linked websites and here)
West Sussex County Council has reviewed how it develops parking schemes across the County and working in partnership with Chichester District Council, a pilot study has recently been undertaken in Chichester. This more progressive approach towards parking management, known as a Road Space Audit (RSA) has tried to determine if there are other ways for the County Council and its partners to consider existing and future parking demands.
The Society was among a limited group of consultees given early access to the Report and submitted a response in November last year which is available here.
The RSA is designed to be an enabling study that complements existing statutory plans and emerging studies in respect of transport infrastructure, parking policy and spatial planning, such as ‘A Vision for Chichester’.
County Councillors and officers at West Sussex County Council are now keen to ascertain whether members of the public are in support of the broad themes raised within the RSA and if these fit in with their aspirations on what they would like Chichester, the place, to be in the future. Please note that as yet, nothing has been decided and further discussions will take place pending the outcome of this consultation exercise.
The online survey form can be accessed here. The closing date for responses is 31 October 2017.
Consultation on the Southern Gateway ends on 10 August.A meeting to discuss Freeflow takes place at 6:30 Thursday 3 August Assembly Rooms. If you wish to support this proposal you can sign a petition here
Many are seeking changes to the Southern Gateway plan as it is deemed as flawed because it does not address the need to avoid the current congestion at the 2 railway crossing to the South.
Freeflow offers the City a gateway worthy of the name by providing a dedicated new road and bridge solution, removing congestion, pollution and mounting frustration of those trying to access Chichester. It proposes the closure of both crossings saving over 20,000 working days wasted every year waiting at the crossings.
The route creates minimal visual impact allowing the closure of both crossings, and with minimal impact on the road network during construction of the bridge
Freeflow offers significant public realm benefits around the train station, removing the through traffic making it pedestrian and cycle friendly
Freeflow proposes a high quality Exhibition / Conference / Performance venue, Hotel, Commercial and Retail space and additional homes to enhance the local economy and create a vibrant southern quarter to Chichester
Freeflow will help alleviate traffic congestion on the A27 by not requiring people to divert to other access routes into the city as they currently do
Ideas for Chichester’s bypass are trapped in the 1970s says Bill Sharp: we need a radical rethink.
Where Are We Now?
The various plans for the A7 bypass round Chichester were all recently pulled by the secretary of state. For some this comes as a blessed relief, because it gives breathing space for serious thought about how we could do things far better.
None of the proposals was a roaring success. Homes demolished (one a listed building), fly-overs hard against windows, fields and views ruined, and wildlife gone.
Then there’s the cost – between £47 and £280 million – much from funds levied from housing developers and supposed to benefit locals impacted by the new housing.
You might think that the first call would be on re-financing services our local councils are struggling to provide, following repeat slashing of central-government funding in recent years. Things like libraries, citizens’ advice bureaux, health and social services and public transport, not to mention our schools so stretched that they’ve launched the county-wide “WorthLess?” campaign.
All these services are being pushed ever closer to breaking point by the growing population wished on us from on high. But instead the lion’s share of funding has been earmarked for this blight on lives and landscape. Not just that, rubbing salt into the wound, County and District councils specifically asked to downgrade locals by prioritising through-traffic. So those living to the east would lose their direct route across the A27 and literally be “sent round the houses”, while those to the south, on the Manhood Peninsula, faced “no right turns” designed to relieve A27 congestion by, er, diverting more traffic onto it.
No wonder the local reception was chilly: from the County Council’s unenthusiastic ‘commentary’ to uproar across the Peninsula. Yet, for all the destruction and cost, not a single option offered more than a short-lived sticking plaster. Whichever was chosen, the roads were predicted to clog up again no later than 2035.
The reason? Induced demand. You just can’t build yourself out of congestion. As we’ve seen with the M25, if you build it, they will come. In the short term, if you free up the roads, people simply make more “discretionary journeys”. In the longer term, people move out to nicer places where the commute now covers many more miles but magically takes the same time as before. And, inevitably, developers too come and build houses in places that used to be inaccessible.
The now withdrawn proposals split the community too. In the north, the “Chichester Deserves Better” campaign came together to call for the blight to be dumped in the south; without a thought for “Turner’s View” across canal to distant cathedral.
For their part, the south responded with “Better for Chichester”, calling for a northern bypass that would rip through the rolling fields that inspired Blake’s Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, each of the options tears into existing green routes. Wherever a footpath or cycleway is reworked, it’s invariably worse. The well-used Bognor Road foot/cycle bridge is even removed completely! And how will a roaring fly-over keep the canal path a more attractive choice than the car?
Depressingly, the largest roads budget since the seventies comes with a mindset stuck in the seventies, when similar car-centred thoughtlessness created similar blight and short-term fixes and, as an unintended consequence, saw walking and cycling levels plummet and sedentary lifestyles rise, with disastrous effects on the nation’s health.
How did we get here?
The problems that brought us here are two fold. Firstly there’s the fixation on economic growth. At the District planning meeting, Councillors and officers alike tirelessly repeated the mantra of “the economic growth we want” despite a room-full of protesters saying “not at this price” and despite local businesses – from shops to the Canal Trust, a farmer and a riding school – contradicting the Chamber of Commerce respondents (all 11 of them), and saying that all the plans would anyway leave them worse off … if they survived in business at all.
Compounding the situation, those in our corridors of power seem wedded to macho ‘hard development’: outsized sheds, pack-houses, warehouses and housing estates that could be anywhere. Much like the bland “anywhere towns” that we suddenly discovered we had sleepwalked into a few years back. There’s scant acknowledgement that such featureless development erases Chichester district’s “special character” – supposedly protected by its Local Plan – or that this special character is precisely what gives the district its keenest economic edge. What the marketers like to call its ‘distinctive offer’ comes not just from pretty Georgian buildings but also the city’s compact size, walkability and easy access to its rural setting and quiet informal recreation – without first having to jump into a car.
We should be stressing the quality of life and prosperity this brings, not growth for growth’s sake. But even if we must go for growth, we’ve reached a fork in the road. We can continue to urbanise this rural district piece by little piece, and pretend we don’t realize what’s happening. Or we could go for ‘soft development’, harnessing the quality of life to attract those who appreciate what’s already here. The likes of software designers, website creators, authors, artists and designers – who don’t need to commute every day, and send their wares down wires not roads. This, incidentally, would also help re-balance the economy from over-reliance on agriculture – which is anyway becoming increasingly automated.
We could also attract more tourists, as recently recommended in a District Council report. And if it’s tourist growth we want, it’s baffling that Chichester has not latched on to the Centurion Way like Cornwall did the Camel Trail which some years ago was estimated to contribute around £3 million annually to the Cornish economy – and, unexpectedly, turned out to be one of Cornwall’s few year-round draws.
It’s equally baffling why no-one acknowledges how badly the Whitehouse Farm development will sterilize the potential for the Centurion Way (and hence Chichester generally) to act as a “green gateway” to the South Downs National Park, let alone that a northern bypass would scotch that potential completely.
The inconvenient truth here is that roads can suck away as much as they bring in. What drives one form of development, drives away another.
We’ve had one local example of the wisdom of holding out against doing the “obvious” thing that everyone else is doing. Namely West Wittering beach. In the twenties, while everyone else was “developing” the coast, in the Witterings they did … well precious little. And now the atmosphere and “special character” of the beach and its setting make it one of the south coast’s prime attractions. It’s a nice earner for the shareholders too. This long-term thinking has ultimately far outperformed the fast buck attitude that would have had the fields there turned into houses.
We’ve also had a more recent warning about trying to have our cake and eat it, about mixing “special” with “anywhere”. In 2014, Rolls Royce commented on a proposal for their neighbouring fields, saying ‘Rolls Royce will effectively be located within a housing estate that is indistinguishable from any UK urban location; exactly the situation we sought hard to avoid’.
It’s easy to have ‘issues’ with special pleading from a car factory plonked in green fields, however mossy the roof. But it’s also easy to see that a company like Rolls Royce wouldn’t have come here if we’d already had ‘anywhere development’ scattered around, and that, if we continue making self-inflicted wounds, they might eventually make good their veiled threat to move on. And neither tourists nor low-impact businesses will find much distinctive to attract them here either.
Ultimately, if you try “special” and it doesn’t work you can always try “anywhere”. If you deploy “anywhere” first, there’s no plan B.
The other half of the “two-fold problem” lies in Highways England’s narrow remit. If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you run a roads problem past Highways, all solutions look like roadworks. So now all options focus on speeding up A27 traffic, albeit by a few minutes at most, and all singly fail to deliver other government policies – public transport, walking and cycling, and home working.
Is the best on offer really roads which, if uglier, at least flow no worse than before … for a few years?
Where could we go instead?
Let’s ponder if a similar amount of money to what’s on the table could be used to more lasting benefit. Some ideas follow. A number require a degree of subsidy, which to some is a dirty word. But the massive road-building budget that we have somehow found in the midst of a recession is, in effect, a huge subsidy to commuters over home-workers, and to the private motor vehicle to the detriment of almost all other forms of transport, and this subsidy indefensibly ends up propping up road-reliant businesses against those – like the Canal Trust, the shops, farm and Riding School – which are positively better off without road intensification.
So why not instead consider spending the money on:
Park and Ride Both the County and the District Council failed to ask Highways to investigate P&R. So we just don’t know how much P&R might help ease the congestion.
New Selsey Tram Today’s congestion could be vastly reduced by a modern version of the tram. Namely a dedicated route for local journeys, requiring just one A27 underpass (or bridge) to
completely do away with the existing cross-traffic conflict. (In an indictment of our short-sighted planning system, some of the old route has disappeared under “economic growth”, but alternatives remain to keep the idea viable.)
Driverless Pods The pods currently shuffling around Heathrow Airport are soon to be trialled on the streets of Greenwich, Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes. Why not Chichester next? Running the route of the “New Selsey Tram”,
or as modern shuttles for the park and ride. (Since pods have no drivers, they have a lower staffing cost than conventional P&R. Better still, in a well-run system there’s no wait for the bus, there’s always a line of pods waiting when you want one. Also, since they drive themselves away to where they are next needed, they require no extra parking space in town.)
Smarter New Developments Developers spend huge amounts to simply rework surrounding roads (often, like at Whitehouse Farm, reworked for the benefit of cars and at the expense of even existing quiet walking and cycling routes). Why not instead fund car clubs (or soon “pod clubs”). And why not re-allocate finances for better on-site facilities like doctor’s surgeries, community shops, sports areas, after-schools clubs and community halls, which reduce the need to travel in the first place and ensure more social interaction and vibrancy on site?
Building on City Centre Car Parks instead of on far-flung green fields. This again eases the roads by reducing the need to travel, and is suggested in the Cathedral Cities in Peril report by the Foster Partnership and English Heritage (2015). The idea needs caution, but if the alternative is millions of pounds on a temporary fix?
Goods Consolidation Centre The recent Road Space Audit suggests this idea, which involves consolidating freight into smaller vehicles for “last leg” deliveries. Unloading from one vehicle and re-loading onto another inevitably creates inefficiencies that hauliers don’t relish. But overall efficiency is increased as large lorries don’t spend forever sitting in congestion, and contributing to congestion, just to drop off a small fraction of their overall load. Consolidation centres on a city’s edge also allow “just in time” delivery to the city centre, which finally allows the centre’s shops to fight back against what suddenly seem relatively slow delivery speeds of the Internet.
Green Infrastructure The Selsey road is positively dangerous. The problems here are just as pressing as on the A27. Residents have been campaigning for a safe cycle route for over two decades. They’ve recently had it costed … at roughly the price of a single roundabout on the A27! Infrastructure like the Selsey Greenway can greatly reduce motorised traffic on and off the Manhood Peninsula. More so now than ever before, given the arrival of electric bikes. There’s also the potential to stimulate low-impact tourism. But where’s the political will?
Green Infrastructure (Contd.) In countries such as Holland, it’s standard to put a cycle path alongside any new stretch of roadworks. The marginal cost is minimal given that workers and machinery are on site anyway. Again, with electric bikes, the rationale for doing this is greater than ever. But, here too, this country has yet to move on from the seventies.
Wait for Future Trends Driverless Pods have already been mentioned, but the future almost certainly also lies with driverless cars and driverless lorries. When reviewing traffic and parking in the city centre, the Road Space Audit finished by recommending a “wait and see approach” precisely because future changes are unclear but, at the same time, likely imminent and radical. It would be smart to adopt the same approach for the A27. After all it would be pretty ironic (not to mention an epic waste of money) if, after all the blight and expense, it turns out that “platooning” of lorries allows us to squeeze more freight into the same road space, and that platooned or driverless lorries allow far more freight to be transported outside peak hours, when the A27 still has massive spare capacity. And, irony of ironies, what if autonomous cars mean that in the near future it is actually more efficient to get stuck in congestion, as you can then spend a bit more time working in your car, which doubles as your mobile office (or even as your gym).
Traffic Smoothing While waiting to see what the future brings, there is one line of attack that’s so comparatively cheap and straightforward that we could try it immediately. And that’s traffic smoothing. Some drivers have commented “It’s not the speed of my journey, it’s the predictability that matters to me“. In some areas, such as parts of Bristol, the dual carriageway is limited to 50 mph – which increases car-carrying capacity. Such speeds also lead to less stop-start movements and hence immediately less pollution. In addition it seems likely that, on the A27, traffic-light timings could be set to send traffic along the road in pulses, leaving gaps for similarly pulsed North-South traffic. Pulsing works with cars in New York and bicycles in Copenhagen. Admittedly, the winding A27 is less straightforward than the grid pattern of New York, but it still has few enough junctions that the idea is likely workable. And that would be the “intractable” A27 problem largely solved, for slightly less than £280 million. The main problem seems to be lack of the necessary modelling expertise within Highways England, and lack of interest in sourcing the expertise from elsewhere. Far easier to “just get on with doing what we’ve always done”.
Incentives to think outside the box If we can combine some of the above to solve the A27 problems for less than a middling figure between the lowest and the highest cost options, say a “modest” £100 million, then the money saved should be divided up, with half going back to the DfT and half going to our local councils. That should provide incentive to think differently, and move on from the mentality that forgets to reinstate pedestrian bridges and regards green infrastructure generally as an afterthought instead of a key part of the solution. The windfall would buy a lot of school equipment, mental health services or what have you. If we had more joined-up government (remember that?), the windfall could even pay to preserve our disappearing Law Courts – so avoiding the farce of one government department tearing its hair out about how to solve congestion on the roads and overcrowding on trains, while another department puts more strain on those same roads and trains by converting journeys, that for many used to be a stroll across town, into long-distance trips to Portsmouth, Brighton or even Hastings.
Going Dutch If we must have “grade separation”, better to bury the road than raise it. Visual intrusion is less, and so is noise carry. And don’t let anyone say that the water table is an intractable problem. It wasn’t for the Dutch at the Veluwemeer Aqueduct (which carries boats from one side of the road to the other). Note also the cycle path alongside the road – as a matter of course
Are these ideas pie in the sky? We’ll never know, because Highways England wasn’t asked to investigate anything other than roadworks, so guaranteeing that we get “improvements” that are short term – and in just over 15 years we will have to plough more money better spent elsewhere into yet more roadworks – funded by yet more blight. That’s a vicious cycle well worth stopping in its tracks.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
It was claimed earlier that the problem is two-fold. In fact it is three fold. The third problem is ourselves. If anything of lasting benefit is to emerge from the present mess, we must do more than suggest clever ideas for other peoples’ travel choices. We must take a hard look at our own. Can Chichester rise to the challenge? It definitely can. But for that to happen, we must all come together to call for smarter options. The northerners must stop calling for the trashing of Turner’s View, and the Southerners for the ripping up of Blake’s “pleasant pastures”.
Since the original plans were pulled, strong promise of a new beginning has come in the initiative from County Council to try to pull all sections of the community together in a series of workshops.
That said, there’s more than a hint that seventies thinking is still strong when the name of this new initiative is “Build a Better A27”, and when, at the first meeting, passionate voices still called to “dump it in the north” or “dump it in the south”, depending on where they live.
To encourage more flexibility and dialogue between the die-hards, it’s worth pointing out that, under the present growth agenda, if southerners do get a northern bypass, their now more accessible fields, vistas, walks and wildlife will be ripe to fall to more sheds and housing than ever they imagine. While if northerners hold the line to the south, the road will clog up and the northern bypass will raise its ugly head to haunt us again in little more than 15 short years’ time.
Oh, and more positive things like the Selsey Greenway still won’t be built!
Induced DemandInduced demand, or latent demand, is the phenomenon that after supply increases, more of a good is consumed.City planner Jeff Speck has called induced demand “the great intellectual black hole in city planning, the one professional certainty that everyone thoughtful seems to acknowledge, yet almost no one is willing to act upon.”
Car Dependency and Health ‘The average distance a person walked for transport purposes has fallen from 255 miles a year in 1976 to 192 miles in 2003, while car use increased by more than 10%. Although people are travelling further to get to work, one in five journeys of less than one mile are made by car’ The UK among worst in western Europe for level of overweight and obese people
UK air pollution ‘Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day’ according to research undertaken by the Royal College of Physicians
Cathedral Cities in PerilA report published by Foster and Partners in 2015 to help inform the debate about the expansion of cathedral cities and historic towns
How healthy is cycling?‘Do you need facts and figures about cycling? Cycling UK’s policy team continually analyses statistics, reports and research’ For example ‘People who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and their life expectancy is two years above the average’
Out in nature. Natural England noted that ‘Most studies show spending time in or being active in natural environments is associated with positive outcomes for attention, anger, fatigue and sadness, higher levels of positive affect and lower levels of negative affect (mood/emotion) and physiological stress. There is generally positive evidence relating to the impacts of activities in natural environments on children’s mental health and their cognitive, emotional and behavioural functioning’
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.
The continuing damage caused to buildings and pavements was brought 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.
Subsequent discussions with Highways England led to a sign being put up to deter HGVs from entering the Pallants. This has certainly helped as lorries have been observed backing into the South Pallant Car Park to return up Old Market Avenue.
Alan Carn, Co-Chair Whyke Residents Association explains
At last we have the prospect of a safe crossing of the A27 at the Whyke roundabout.
The new bridge is in place and the approach steps and ramps appear to be in an advanced state of preparation. Highways have done what they were tasked to do, and the design (in my opinion as a long time teacher of Design) is quite pleasing and elegant.
The A27 problem has been solved, but unfortunately not the attendant problems of the B2145 (Whyke Road and Hunston Road).
Approaching the new bridge from Whyke Road, a pavement takes the pedestrian towards the A27 on the west side, but stops some 50 yards from the roundabout. Here it is necessary to cross Whyke Road in order to continue on the pavement which connects to the roundabout on the east side. At the roundabout it is necessary to cross to the west side again to access the new bridge. Drivers leaving the A27 and heading into town often seem not to appreciate that they are entering a 30 mph zone, and often exceed the limit, at just the points where pedestrians would be obliged to cross.
The Council are looking into the problem, but is seems unlikely that a solution will be in place when the new bridge is scheduled to open, or for some time after.
A similar problem exists on the Hunston Road side. The pavement on the West side connects directly to the bridge, but runs out a short distance from the roundabout.
To continue south, it is necessary to cross the road in order to pick up the pavement to Chichester Lakes, but at the entry point to the lakes, the pavement ends, and further progress towards Hunston is at the mercy of the traffic.
Crossing the Hunston Road at any point near to the roundabout is hazardous as the sight lines are restricted and the speed limit is an astonishing 50 mph!
There are other safe ways of accessing the bridge from the town side, but these are circuitous and not obvious. Similarly, there is a footpath to Hunston which crosses the fields behind the old Carmelite Convent and emerges by Canal Corner. Again not particularly obvious and no help to people wishing to visit the lakes or walk or cycle to The Mundhams.
The Chairman of the Society, Richard Childs, Society issued apress releaseon 19 January which reads as follows.
‘The Chichester Society has looked at the maps recently published by the Observer showing possible upgrades for the A27. Richard Childs, the Chairman, said “The Chichester Society has a responsibility to support whatever is best for Chichester as a whole”.
We currently have a situation in which everyone agrees that something must be done. Predictably, North Chichester and Lavant have come out in favour of a southern route, and South Chichester and Selsey in favour of a northern route.
As ever the devil is in the detail. Will a northern route contain sufficient environmental safeguards to prevent the destruction of the scenic value of the South Downs? Will a southern route have the capacity to cope with the vast expansion of Chichester proposed in the Local Plan? Should temporary traffic congestion determine the choice of a route which will be in place for decades to come? While the leaked maps are useful in helping to frame such questions, lines on a map do not provide answers. For this reason the Society will hold a watching brief and comment or campaign as appropriate once the full consultation is launched.’
The original document can be viewed by clicking here.
Older city residents still remember the days when cows used to graze right up to the city walls.
All that changed, however, nearly 30 years ago in the 1980s when someone followed the “wisdom” of the time and ran a road through Westgate Fields.
The road, in its turn, required an underpass in order to keep the pedestrian link which connects, notably, Chichester College and the railway station and sees hundreds of students each day, not to mention all those Waitrose shoppers too.
And if an underpass is to be attractive, it needs to be more than a concrete tunnel. So a competition was launched to design a set of murals. This was rather fittingly won by a Chichester College student, Victor Hang, whose vision was completed in early 1987.
Nearly thirty years on, the underpass was very much showing its age. So in 2012 we started working to get the pass spruced up again, hopefully in time to form part of the Society’s own 40th anniversary celebrations in 2013.
The first essential was to commission a survey, and the Society was fortunate to obtain the services of Katey Corder, a conservator of international standing specialising in murals and walls paintings. Her report informed the Society’s bid to West Sussex County Council for a grant to fund the works. The County accepted our proposals and awarded the grant. We then appointed Mark Lewis and his team at Art and Soul Traders whose colourful murals are illustrated here.
As it turned out, the project overshot our target by a year, but painting work did finish in mid July 2014, and on 30 July 2014 we had a small gathering to celebrate the completion of the work. We were particularly pleased to be joined by Clare Smith and Debbie Burford, landscape architects who had been very active in helping progress the original project all those years ago.
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