New park and ride site on the cards for Chichester

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A former Ministry of Defence petrol depot once threatened by the Nazi propagandist Lord Haw-Haw in a wartime broadcast could become a park-and-ride site for Chichester.

No decisions have yet been made, but the possibility is being considered by the district council.

A report was discussed by its executive board in private session, and a council spokesman said afterwards: “We are hoping to acquire land for park-and-ride use, but do not own a suitable site at present and there are therefore no definite proposals.”

The depot is in Bognor Road close to the Bognor Bridge roundabout, and is next to the A27, on the south side, and the A259.

This position is in line with a recent council comment that both the district and county councils recognised a site outside the A27 would be more attractive to park and ride users than a location currently allocated for the purpose in Barnfield Drive.

As previously reported by the Observer, the board agreed to back the idea of retail warehousing on the three-hectare Barnfield Drive site, and is asking the county council to deallocate it for park-and-ride.

The board came down in favour of a partnership agreement with a commercial company.

If this goes ahead, the idea is that the council would retain ownership of the land and receive a rent from the company.

The former petrol depot was used during the second world war as a depot for RAF Tangmere, the famous Battle of Britain station.

Petrol was taken to the site by train – a siding is still there – and stored in underground bunkers before being transported by bowser lorries to fuel Tangmere’s fighter aircraft.

Chichester historian Ken Green said Lord Haw-Haw – nickname for the traitor William Joyce, who was executed after the war in 1946 – announced in his broadcast from Berlin ‘We know about the petrol dump in Chichester’.

“Everyone was terrified because it was thought this meant they were going to bomb it,” said Mr Green.

“In fact they bombed the Bognor Bridge nearby on two occasions, and it was believed they were going for the petrol.”

In later years, the depot was taken over by Shell and used commercially for petrol storage.

The bunkers, still on the site, are covered in grass, and the area was sometimes used for grazing sheep over the years.