Bid to save Oving’s traffic lights narrowly rejected by councillors

Oving parish councillors Elizabeth Smith and Sjoerd Schuyleman give the thumbs down to today's committee decision
Oving parish councillors Elizabeth Smith and Sjoerd Schuyleman give the thumbs down to today's committee decision

The fight to save Oving’s traffic lights is set to continue despite councillors narrowly rejecting plans to keep them in place.

The staged but eventual closure of the signals at the B2144’s junction with the A27 was included in planning conditions for the Shopwhyke Lakes development.

An application by Oving Parish Council to keep the crossroads open cannot be approved by Chichester District Council after a ruling from the Secretary of State.

Last time it was discussed in January 2017 the council’s planning committee voted to defer it for 12 months or until a preferred option for the A27 was selected.

However the application was refused by eight votes to six when it came back to the committee today (Wednesday June 13).

After the meeting, Sjoerd Schuyleman, chairman of the parish council, described the decision as ‘extremely unjust’ as they could not produce the necessary technical work to support the application without knowing Highways England’s preferred option for improvements to the A27.

They would consider submitting a second application to keep the lights open, but he also urged residents to make their views known to Chichester MP Gillian Keegan.

He said: “I think there is going to be outrage because people will now see this closure as likely to happen.”

Mr Schuyleman added: “I will not stop and will continue fighting.”

Speaking in support of the application Oving parish councillor Elizabeth Smith argued the traffic lights provided a safe and easy point for traffic to cross the A27.

She described how residents she talked to viewed the plans with ‘dismay and outrage’.

Several district councillors argued in favour of another deferral as a way of ‘keeping the issue alive’.

But Andrew Frost, the council’s director for planning services, said: “This application at this stage is going nowhere.”

Officers described how the changes were about changing patterns of travel behaviour rather than severing the community.

Conditions from the Shopwhyke Lakes development mandated the pedestrian crossing of the A27 be upgraded to a toucan crossing.

Then after a certain number of homes are occupied the Oving traffic lights junction would be restricted to left-in left-out movements in both directions, with bollards in the central reservation to prevent right turns.

A later point would see the junction shut off for traffic heading westwards apart from buses.

Tangmere councillor Simon Oakley said: “If this committee defers this application or decides not to determine it, we are expressing our view that this junction should remain as is and keeps the issue alive.”

Funtington’s Julia Tassell added: “I would be in favour of keeping this alive until we are more certain of what the future holds.”

But others argued in favour of refusal.

Carol Purnell, who represents Selsey North, argued that in order to provide certainty they should turn the application down.

Southbourne’s Bob Hayes, chairman of the committee, said: “As much as I would like to support this, we have the Secretary of State’s decision and we have had this conversation three times and I think we have to determine it.”

A motion by Mr Oakley to defer the application was lost by eight votes to six.

A subsequent vote to refuse the application was then successful.

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