Powerful opposition has been lodged against the last-ditch bid to save the Oving Traffic Lights from closure.
Highways England has submitted a ten-page ‘final recommendation’ calling for the refusal of a planning application which aims to keep the crossing open.
Chichester District Council’s planning committee could make a decision on the application as early as next month, the Observer understands.
Ahead of that, Highways England - the government’s transport company and a consultee - has lodged a formal objection, saying keeping the lights open would have a ‘detrimental impact on the safety and capacity’ of the A27 around Chichester.
In response, Oving Parish Council, who have submitted the application, says the lights currently operate ‘effectively and safely’, and has accused Highways England of ‘bullying’ them - saying it ‘feels like a David and Goliath contest that we cannot win’.
The closure of the Oving lights was agreed as a condition of the planning permission granted to build 500 homes at Shopwyke Lakes.
The developer will build a new access road from the north of the development onto the A27 Arundel Road, just east of the Portfield Roundabout, but to get that approved, for safety reasons access at the Oving lights had to go.
In the Highways England recommended refusal, it states: “Highways England considers that the applicant has failed to demonstrate that conditions 9 and 11 can be removed without resulting in a materially detrimental impact upon the safety and capacity of the A27 trunk road.
“On the basis of the information currently provided, the proposal would worsen congestion and safety on the A27 trunk road without enabling economic development.
“In contract, the committed highway scheme in conditions 9 and 11 which will be provided by the Shopwyke Lakes development, provides safety and traffic flow benefits.
“In the absence of information from the applicant to address our concerns, we consider that it is against the public interest of users of the strategic network to allow the proposal.”
Oving Parish Council chairman Sjoerd Schuyleman said Highways’ request for it to pay the £500,000 costs for mitigation measures to keep the lights open are ‘ridiculous’ when the council budget collected from its residents is only £36,000 a year.
Mr Schuyleman said: “We do not have this money, nor can we raise it.
“This is another clear example that Highways England is bullying us.
“It feels like a David and Goliath contest that we cannot win.”
The application could be heard on September 14, and Mr Schuyleman added: “This is our last chance to get our application approved and we need your support.
“If it is not approved there is no way that we can meet the expensive cost of an appeal.”
Oving’s application has received huge amounts of support from local parish councils and residents.
To see the application and letters for and against, click here
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.chichester.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChichesterObserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @Chiobserver
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Chichester Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.