BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Shopwyke Lakes

Shopwyke Lakes, with the proposed site marked in red. Contributed picture
Shopwyke Lakes, with the proposed site marked in red. Contributed picture

THE largest proposed housing development in the Chichester district, since the Graylingwell site was approved in 2009, has been considered by councillors.

The Shopwyke Lakes site would have 500 homes, of which 30 per cent would be affordable housing.

It would be built on a brownfield site and council officers said it would make a big contribution to the shortfall in the council’s five-year housing supply. It would also result in a significant amount of money being channelled into the community in the form of a section 106 agreement.

The scheme has been described as ‘imaginative’ and ‘visionary’, and was even described by someone opposed to the scheme as ‘not the usual slab of suburbia’.

Nevertheless, at the meeting of the area development management committee (south) on April 3, councillors voted ten to two in favour of sending the plan back to the drawing board – because of concerns about the impact on the Oving crossroads.

Concern has been raised by a number of parties about the crossroads’ closure, included as part of the Shopwykes Lake plan.

The Highways Agency and West Sussex County Council highways have both spoken in favour of the scheme and say, although there would be a small negative impact, it would be outweighed by the positives.

Despite this, a campaign group LOLA (Leave Oving Lights Alone) has amassed nearly 2,000 signatures against the closure, Westbourne House School has carried out its own traffic survey which it said showed the impact of the closure would be bigger than suggested by the county council and other bodies, including Chichester City Council and Tangmere Parish Council, have noted similar concerns.

The plans have now been deferred and the committee has asked Hanbury Properties to look for another solution to the traffic situation which does not involve closing the Oving crossroads, or at least examines the possibility of getting rid of only the right-hand turn from the crossroad, therefore still allowing vehicles to cross the carriageway.

Entrances

The Shopwyke Lakes site is situated on land between Shopwyke Road, and the A27 east of the Portfield roundabout.

In the plan’s current form, there would be three points of access to the site:

- On the A27 stretch between the Portfield roundabout and Tangmere.

- On the A27 stretch between the Portfield roundabout and the Bognor roundabout. It would be before the entrance to Shopwyke Road.

- An entrance on Shopwyke Road.

The Oving crossroads would be closed, and become continual carriageway. This would mean there would be a left-hand turn only into Shopwyke Lakes from the A27 between the Portfield and Bognor roundabouts.

All traffic looking to enter the development coming along Oving Road from Chichester, or the A27 from the Bognor roundabout, would have to circle around the Portfield roundabout and approach the development from the eastbound carriageway.

Accident rates

The Oving crossroads were upgraded in 2009, with a phased traffic light system designed to improve safety.

The district council’s area development management committee (south) was told that prior to the works taking place, there had been 3.7 casualties per year, and since 2009 this had been reduced to 3.2.

The developers said that the new proposals would reduce it down to 1.2 casualties per year. A member of Hanbury Properties added most of the accidents had been a result of ‘right-turn conflicts’.

However, protestors have contested the figures, saying they are inaccurate, and that since the 2009 upgrade the number of accidents has been significantly less.

In response, Peter Phillips from the Highways Agency told the committee: “We rely on the police for accident rates. These are a year behind and that’s why application details appear to be out of date, and maybe why there was a discrepancy on some of the dates.”

He said there had been a ‘slight improvement’ since the 2009 works. However, he added the improvement was ‘not as substantial as some people appear to believe’.

He also said: “Any of those right turns generate a conflict and by removing that there’s a substantial saving to be made in the number of accidents.”

Affordable Housing

The development would have 10 per cent less affordable housing than the district council’s target of 40 per cent.

Members heard the reason for this was because of the abnormal land restoration costs required on the former gravel pit, plus the additional laying of a sewage pipe to the Tangmere water treatment works.

At the area development management committee (south) meeting, the council’s case officer for the proposed development Jeremy Bushell said that neither Southern Water nor the Environment Agency had raised any objections to the laying of the sewage pipe.

At the meeting, Cllr Simon Oakley, who represents the Tangmere ward, suggested savings which could be made by preserving the Oving traffic lights could contribute towards more affordable housing on the development.

“We have to look at this in the round and balance out where our priorities are,” he told the committee.

“A big priority for this council is delivery of affordable housing,” he said, also questioning whether the council should accept a shortfall in that provision in order for unwanted road changes.

“To me it’s not a case of whether this site gets developed – it’s how we do it,” he said.

For the full feature on the proposed Shopwyke Lakes development, see this week’s Chichester Observer (April 11)