I WOULD like to request more transparency from the teams considering the proposals for the Chichester bypass.
There has been little official publicity of the project and I understand that details of the six proposals under consideration are being closely guarded.
It is rumoured that only one route will be presented to the public by Highways England in January for consultation.
If this is true, it would mean that one of the most important planning decisions to affect Chichester for decades will have been bulldozed through by a remote national body with little effective opportunity for local consultation before the real bulldozers move in.
This is bully-boy tactics and has to be wrong.
Two of the proposed routes are to the north of the city. I would like the opportunity to object to this choice on many grounds.
1. Loss of visual amenity. The close proximity of a major dual carriageway would destroy the feel and culture of one of the principal charms of the city which is its proximity to and relationship with the South Downs and the National Park area of outstanding natural beauty (ANOB).
It also contradicts the aims of the South Downs National Park Authority and the recommendations of previous development studies.
2. Noise and disturbance resulting from use. Siting a major road though this area would generate noise and an increased level of pollution that would cause devastating changes to the immediate area.
3. Previous local planning policies. A northern bypass proposal would be contrary to every previous planning consideration concerning construction of a major road going back many decades.
4. Loss of trade. I would anticipate the existence of such a road to have a terminal effect on the trading capabilities of the Goodwood estate which forms part of the very culture of the city. The estate is a major local employer and its activities provide an enormous economic benefit to the area.
5. Detrimental effect on the local economy. Goodwood is also the landowner of the Rolls Royce plant. BMW and the Rolls Royce brand is also a major local employer creating an iconic product with international renown.
If this proposal causes any adverse effect on their business resulting in their relocation, the loss of employment and income to the area would cause the local council untold financial damage.
6. Lack of sustainability of existing infrastructure. We are informed by the ‘Chichester Deserves Better’ action group that in the event of a northern bypass being constructed, the onus of repair and maintenance for the original A27 to the south of the city would fall to West Sussex County Council who have already been called upon to make £130m cuts to their budget.
A reduced local economy would mean it would struggle to maintain the road condition and suitability for purpose. I would propose that the budgets for any extensive road remodelling coming from Highways England would be better spent on improving and maintaining the existing infrastructure.
The threat of these unintended consequences is too important for a solution to be pushed through. It demands lengthy research, consultation and in depth analysis managed in a way to ensure local interests are paramount.
As I am sure you are aware, the landscape we are discussing is the very landscape that gave inspiration to Williams Blake’s poem Jerusalem.
We need urgent action to protect our green and pleasant land. I urge your readers to: a) Support the tide of negative sentiment to any additional significant road construction to the north of the city; b) advocate and promote any proposals for the improvement of the existing road network and c) call for an open and honest, in-depth, local consultation of all the options conceivable before we rush headlong into any solution that could cause irreparable damage to the city and its environment.