A27 debate in Chichester a hot topic for Observer readers

DM17311189a.jpg. A27, Arundel. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-170703-121923008
DM17311189a.jpg. A27, Arundel. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-170703-121923008

Last week, the Observer published two articles sharing views on what the future holds for the A27 in the Chichester area and the discussions and work that has taken place along the way.

Chichester resident David Palmer said he thought the Northern proposal was ‘dead in the water’ and that the city needed ‘new leadership’ to bring people together to search for a ‘solution that we can all live with’.

Louise Goldsmith, the leader of West Sussex County Council, vowed to continue to put the case for funding for a ‘sustainable long-term option for the A27’ and said ‘serious investment’ was needed ‘now’.

Following the articles, many readers wanted to add their reaction and their views on the A27. Here we publish a selection of the comments made on the Observer Facebook page and letters sent to us

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With reference to the two articles on page 9 of the Chichester Observer (January 24), I think it fair to say that Highways England’s involvement in trying to solve the traffic problems around Chichester has been a failure. Taking a year to rebuild the A27 footbridge at the Donnington roundabout does not augur well for the future.

Traffic around Chichester is going to increase considerably with the extra housing agreed in Chichester District Council’s current local plan for 1,600 dwellings at Whitehouse Farm, 1,000 at Tangmere, 350 at Westhampnett plus others elsewhere, all yet to be built. Then add in the proposals for even more housing in the new local plan currently out for consultation. How many more vehicles will these developments produce and where will they go?

It is possible now to drive around the north and south of Chichester using country lanes and through the City, but these roads are not designed for heavy traffic flows. The choice is therefore a new by-pass to the north, upgrade the existing one or a new by-pass to the south. One to the south is probably a non starter because of its extra length.

Upgrading the existing by-pass, while expecting it to carry the existing and increasing traffic flows for several years while the work takes place, is the recipe for chaos. A new northern by-pass could be built without materially affecting existing traffic flows on the existing by-pass. Therefore the views of Louise Goldsmith should be supported and urgent action taken asap.

David Myers, Shore Road, Bosham

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I commend the Chichester Observer for publishing both sides of the debate on the A27 in last week’s paper. It reflects the uphill struggle that the vast majority of Chichester residents have come up against when trying to achieve a democratic and ‘long term sustainable solution’ to the appalling traffic and pollution issues that plague our beautiful city.

I must state that I did not attend the meeting that Mr Palmer refers to, but his comments, as Louise Goldsmith has highlighted in her reply and are unfortunately typical of a small number of residents, who are clearly against a democratic process. To refer to anyone as ‘a tribal gathering of Northern route fanatics’ and Louise Goldsmith as ‘the high priestess of the NoRofans’ are neither accurate nor productive. It is interesting to note that Mr Palmer freely admits that HE figures show the northern option is cheaper at £480 million, than the southern option which may well far exceed the £500m due to the inevitable unforeseen difficulties, not to mention the years of traffic and pollution misery that will ensue .

The reasons why Chichester residents whether for or against either route, are so frustrated is because every consultation has been incomplete. It is only a democratic process when all options are consulted on, both north and south, but at every opportunity, the northern options have been excluded or pulled at the eleventh hour with no justifiable reason. In response to Mr Palmer’s residential status, both mine and my husband’s fathers, grandparents and great grandparents (pre 1900)

have been born and lived in Chichester all their lives. I have lived in Chichester for all but five of my 51 years, 16 of those in Donnington, so unlike Mr Palmer, who lives in the north, I have experienced the ever increasing traffic congestion and diminishing air quality!

Mr Palmer should apportion blame for the failure on Government not Mrs Goldsmith and the councils. It is the Government that needs to accept that a realistic budget is required to effectively address the A27 issue rather than the incredibly expensive short term sticking plasters. Mrs Goldsmith is right, everyone should be working together and comments like Mr Palmer’s are unhelpful and unnecessary. Jennie Horn, Graydon Avenue, Chichester

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David Palmer’s half-page article (January 24) about the A27 is emotive and highly biased in favour of a southern route.

He gives himself away in his third paragraph, where he describes supporters of a northern route with a deprecative term that he uses later in his article.

I have followed the A27 debate in the Chichester Observer and attended most of the Build a Better A27 (BaBA27) meetings, but I have never known supporters of a northern route be rude towards supporters of a southern route.We need a measure of unity to solve the A27 problem round Chichester.

We shall not achieve unity with remarks like his “The starting point has to be that the Northern Route proposal is dead in the water”. On the contrary, every possibility has to be on the table.

The Highways Agency wanted a solution acceptable to the community, which none of the southern routes previously offered was.

The community even preferred “none of the above” to any of the southern routes. So Louise Goldsmith brought together interested people from Chichester, and all areas around it, to form BaBA27, which discussed every possibility, with nothing ruled out, and proposed in principle both a northern and a southern route, which was broadly acceptable to people from all sides of Chichester.

It is particularly sad that Mr Palmer sank to criticize Louise Goldsmith personally. His rudeness to her and to supporters of a northern route show the weakness of his argument for a southern route. Mrs Goldsmith worked tirelessly to achieve unity and, contrary to Mr Palmer’s allegation, favoured neither a northern nor southern route. Indeed, her neutrality was sometimes quite frustrating to both sides, but she guided us towards a consensus. That was endorsed by both Councils, West Sussex County and Chichester District.

Anthony Tuffin, Solent Way, Selsey

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In reply to David Palmer’s critique of her leadership qualities in his piece ‘The Northern proposal is dead in the water’ WSCC’s Louise Goldsmith asserts that the BABA27 process led to ‘a clear statement of the need to find a long-term sustainable solution for this historic place that we all love’.

She claims that ‘not all the residents I represent support a Northern option but very many do’.

Those who, like me, had but little trust, or confidence, in the BABA27 exercise will find it unsurprising that Mrs Goldsmith here neglects to mention a key fact: namely, that during the BABA27 process, a clear majority of Chichester residents voted – in response to polls run separately by WSCC and Chichester Observer – not for any northern route, mitigated or otherwise, but rather in favour of improvements to the existing A27.

The whole BABA27 affair was supposed to have been built on the fundamental premise that this was a process rooted in, and led by, the community. So why was this central, clearly expressed and documented preference of the community ignored totally by the local powers-that-be?

Michael Tucker, Pook Lane, East Lavant

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I take issue with David Palmer. I was at the meeting at West Wittering, have been an active member of BABA27, but I am not a willing supporter of a northern route, but will continue to support that northern route until someone can explain in simple terms how a southern route can be easily provided without bring the whole of West Sussex to a grinding halt. CDC recently approved a business park on the old fuel dump at the Bognor roundabout, at the Stockbridge the road squeezes between long established housing, and at Fishbourne the road swerves between Tesco’s on one side and a Roman Palace on the

other. Building either flyovers or underpasses will cause major disruption for months if not years, and there is only one diversion route south of the A272 that can be used through somewhere called Lavant. I have proposed one possible solution. It would replace the Tesco and Stockbridge roundabouts with one built just off line, but CDC Local Plan Update now proposes to build another business park on that land.

So, Mr Palmer think on this. Had their Lordships and people like you with your own radio station to stir up discontent had left the original consultation to the democratic process, we in the south would have protested, Highways England would claimed they listened , but would have recommended Route2b to the Secretary of State, which the SoS could have approved on cost reasons alone.

HE would now be trying to explain why those living in Bognor wishing to travel to Portsmouth will only be able to do so by travelling via Brighton, and if the recent diversion route around Southampton is anything to go by, up to the M25 then down the A3. The more savvy will try to take a very choked up A272. Construction of a northern route creates none of these problems, with much of it crossing over old disused gravel pits, passes a major car factory which requires effective transport infrastructure, and whilst we may love old cars and vintage aeroplanes, one cannot claim the area around the aerodrome is now a tranquil environment.

Laurie Pocock, Cherry Lane, Birdham

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I was astounded to see the coverage you had given a member of the publc on your page 9 (January 24th) regarding the A27. I was horrified to see the headline ‘the northern proposal is dead in the water’ because it is my understanding that it most definitely not dead in the water. The southern A27 takes all the east-west traffic, all the Witterings beach traffic, Stockbridge roundabout gets clogged up with the level crossing gates, once again on the southern part of the city. And gets clogged up with Goodwood traffic. Please kindly note I have nothing against Goodwood. But please let us be realistic. The fabulous events do cause issues on the A27. A northern route, mindful of the countryside, coud be a good option, a very good option. There are many examples around the south of how the countryside can be honoured but the demands of traffic, ever increasing traffic can be managed. I shudder at the thought of major major road building on the current A27. In my opinion it will be the quickest way for shoppers, day trippers, holiday-makers, potential home buyers and business people to give up trying to get here and simply abandon Chichester.

A northern route would equal better access for Goodwood, Chichester city centre, the theatre and cathedral.The northern route may need tweaking but let’s tweak please. Vivienne Barnes, Wellsfield, West Wittering

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Read more: MP to push ‘urgently’ to secure A27 funding for Chichester