LETTER: Depressing vision for city

I recently attended a presentation by a city councillor entitled ‘A Vision for Chichester’.

It is emphasised the speaker made it clear his presentation was not an official finalised vision, and he was using those present as guinea-pigs. Several of us left the meeting feeling depressed by what was in the minds of those who shape the future of Chichester.

As a 16-year-old, my first job, in 1947, was with a company based in Southgate, close to where the Observer office is now. At that time, Chichester was a small market city with a dance hall in North Street, three cinemas, a cattle market, brewery, and abattoir, all within walking distance of the Cross.

There were few multi-branch shops, most being independent and unique to Chichester.

In those days, when the weather was fine, with my work colleagues, we would eat our lunch-time sandwiches outside the back door of the firm’s Southgate premises, looking at the cows grazing in the field where the multi-storey car park is now. I mention this because one of Chichester’s main attractions was the proximity of the countryside which, over the years, has sadly been eroded.

One of the interesting facts our presenter mentioned was the birth and death rate of Chichester residents has been roughly the same for many years. Thus, the increase in population is down entirely to new arrivals. This brings me to the basic problem which exists, not just in Chichester but under which much of the UK is suffering, namely, gross over-population!

Back in the 1930s, academics put the maximum number of people that could be supported within the British Isles at 30million! Today, we have more than double that and, consequently, have to import 40 per cent of our food. It is thanks to the improvement in farming methods, in the intervening years, that we do not import over 50 per cent.

To build on prime agricultural ground, such as Whitehouse Farm, is insane. Just after the first world war, the Manhood peninsular was designated as one of the most fertile places in the UK.

In 1957 a Sidlesham resident told me there were 1,000 dwellings in Selsey. Today, I believe, there are about 10,000!

As for the A27, would our councillors please insist all house-building is halted within a 15 mile radius of Chichester, including those which already have planning permission, until such time as a northern by-pass is constructed. All the proposed southern routes are merely sticking plaster and will, without doubt, make traffic congestion worse, particularly on the Manhood peninsular.

Derek Hunnikin

St Leodegars Way

Hunston