Chichester Canal Trust speaks out against A27 Option 2 ‘travesty’

J M Turners famous painting The Chichester Canal has been adapted by Peter Dunne to include the road bridge
J M Turners famous painting The Chichester Canal has been adapted by Peter Dunne to include the road bridge

A new southern link road built over Chichester canal would have a ‘permanent detrimental’ impact on the area as a tourist attraction, the canal trust has said.

It claims the impact of a new road and bridge, as proposed as one of the A27 options currently being considered, on the rural countryside would be a ‘travesty’ and affect the trust’s ability to maintain the canal in future years.

The view of the cathedral from the canal, close to where the new bridge would go

The view of the cathedral from the canal, close to where the new bridge would go

In a letter to the Chichester Observer this week, Chichester Ship Canal Trust chairman Mike Bushell said: “The Trust believes that the new southern relief road and bridge, to be constructed over the canal as detailed in Option 2 of the Highways England proposals, will have a permanent detrimental effect on the Ship Canal as a successful local tourist attraction.”

He said: “We are the only business operating on the canal and the detrimental impact of the road and bridge construction during and after completion, with the associated road banks, noise, pollution and traffic visibility, will adversely affect local and national interest in the Canal’s attraction and use.

“Any consequential reduction to visitor numbers and therefore our income will affect our financial capability to maintain the canal in future years.

“The canal is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, with a wide variety of flora and fauna enjoyed by the many visitors.

“To disturb the peaceful rural countryside that the canal meanders through would be a travesty.

“Combined with the loss of the uninterrupted view of the Cathedral spire across the fields, as J M Turner’s historic painting ‘The Chichester Canal’ beautifully illustrates, the elevated road and bridge will be a permanent blot on the landscape.”

Option 2 is one of five options currently being consulted on by Highways England for improving Chichester’s A27.

It is the most expensive at £280m, and would see a new ‘Stockbridge link road’ built to the south of the bypass, and over the canal at Donnington.

It has provoked anger from neighbouring residents and business owners, though a number of organisations and groups have come out in support of Option 2.

Mr Bushell said the number of people using the towpath and visiting the canal basin was around 150,000 a year.

The Trust operates more than 1,200 boat trips a year carrying 20,000 passengers and has more than 150 volunteer members, providing more than 15,000 hours of support each year.

A large amount of the Trust’s £250,000 annual income goes towards maintaining the canal and it does not get any financial help from West Sussex County Council, which owns it.

Mr Bushell added: “The Trust’s position therefore is that the proposed new southern road route and bridge, as presently illustrated in Option 2, is not an acceptable development.

“This is the unanimous view of the Trust Directors.

“The Trust fully appreciate that people will have differing views as to which of the proposed Options they will support.”

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