A coffin protest was staged against the lack of cycle provision in plans for new homes to the west of Chichester on Saturday (May 18).
Campaigners claimed that the future of Chichester’s cycle routes will be ‘dead and buried’ if ‘poor development plans’ are implemented. Read more here
It comes after an application (14/04301/OUT) for the development of up to 750 homes at White House Farm, the land west of Centurion Way and west of Old Broyle Road, was permitted despite a ‘continuous cycleway’ not being evident.
A spokesman for the protestors said they met outside the Chichester District Council offices to raise awareness of planning decisions that ‘will affect the future quality and safety of cycle-ways in our city’. This was achieved by using a coffin as the ‘embodiment of West Sussex cycleway provision that has been killed off’.
The spokesman added: “Residents are aware that some planning for cycle routes is ongoing due to all the new developments coming to the city.
“Cyclists are keen to get across the message that provision must be of the highest quality to enable more people to leave their cars at home.
“Local campaigners were lent the coffin by Louise Curry of Earth to Heaven Eco Friendly Coffins. The coffin represents the campaigners’ grief at the prospect of losing much loved cycle provision through a series of poor planning decisions.”
Bosham resident Michael Neville, who cycles into Chichester for work, explained that he was ‘particularly anxious’ about the proposed plans for Westgate.
He added: “I use the A259 every day and at every stage of my commute, poor planning of new development is destined to make cycling increasingly impractical and unpleasant.
“There has to be an acknowledgement of a climate emergency. Every stage of planning must not simply consider, but prioritise opportunities to get people out of cars and moving around on foot or by bicycle”.
Campaign organiser Mark Record said he ‘fears that the car-centred design’ of the mini-roundabout at the junction of Sherborne Road and Westgate will ‘prevent future cycle ways’ joining when the new access road from White House Farm gets put in.
John Grimshaw, original architect of Centurion Way and founder of Sustrans, a UK transport charity, said it has been a ‘long struggle’.
He added: “One despairs that planning for walking and cycling provision is not being prioritised. Of course they should be taking a continuous and good quality route suitable for all through to the city centre.”
Green Party councillor Sarah Sharp, co-ordinator of ChiCycle, spoke to campaigners about their concerns at the protest.
She said: “I hope that the new local cycling and walking infrastructure plan that the councils are working on will give us a much needed new chance to put together higher quality plans for the future – not only for the people in White House Farm but also for around the city with all the new developments going in.”