Trees may face axe in a bid to halt route worry

Trees could be axed under plans to improve a notorious traffic bottleneck in Bognor Regis.

Some 35 specimens would be felled to make way for a new lane for vehicles alongside Butlins.

The proposal would cut into Bluebell Wood which separates the holiday resort from the High Street and is divided by the road from Hotham Park.

The idea from Bognor Regis Civic Society aims to overcome the lengthy delays which blight the Hotham Park roundabout at the narrow eastern section of the A259 Upper Bognor Road.

This is restricted to one lane in both directions by the historic university campus on the north and the wood to the south.

The situation means the volume of traffic on dual carriageways a short distance away in both directions funnels into the roundabout at peak times.

The amount of traffic from areas around Bognor is increased by visitors who arrive and leave Butlins by cars or minibuses.

Civic society executive committee member Michael Harvey devised the scheme for the extra lane starting close to the bus stop outside Felpham and stretching to Gloucester Road.

It would separate traffic heading to the seafront and town centre from through traffic along the A259.

He said: “The aim is to ease the flow of vehicles.”

Most of the wood would stay untouched by the scheme, he said.

His idea received a cautious welcome from Felpham Parish Council. The tailbacks caused by the roundabout regularly block the southern entrance to the village.

Cllr Geoff Farrell: “Splitting the traffic at the roundabout will mean it will flow more quickly because you have only got half the amount of traffic which is there at the moment.

“It means cars will not back up past the St Michael’s allotments as they do now.

“Cutting down 35 trees is a small sacrifice to make for that when you consider there are 700 houses being built on farmland in Felpham,.”

Cllr Graham Matthews said: “There are good and bad things about this. It is a similar system to the one at Westgate in Chichester, which works well.

“There will be the loss of about 35 trees, but it will make the roundabout somewhat easier to negotiate.”

But Cllr Mary Harvey said the footpath past Bluebell Wood was saved under the 1960 agreement between the then Bognor Regis Urban District Council and Butlins.

“So far, it has survived and I for one would be very sorry to see it go. I don’t know if it would be allowed to go because it is part of that agreement that it should remain for the people of Felpham to be able to walk into Bognor. And it is used,” she said.

Cllr George Blampied said: “I am pleased the bulk of the wood would remain. The gyratory system which has been proposed is very good. It would make the traffic flow better than it does now.”

But parish council chairman Cllr Paul English said the scheme could be challenged by those determined to save the trees.

A further seven trees could also go under separate proposals by Butlins for a new entrance off High Street close to the pedestrian crossing to Hotham Park.