It is immensely dispiriting and puzzling to read in the Observer last week that supporters of the ‘No Option’ are being portrayed as a bunch of petulant luddites standing in the way of real journey time improvements for Chichester motorists.
We ‘No Option’ supporters are not as has been suggested by one of your correspondents, a small group of dissidents aided and abetted by rogue councillors. As was accurately reported in your paper there is considerable and widespread anger, particularly south of the A27 about the whole consultative process, the timescale and the options.
For the avoidance of doubt and for the benefit of those who think we have a perverse and irrational objection to all options, let me just summarise the reasons why an increasing number are objecting to all five proposed solutions as offered by HE.
Firstly, the whole recent history of a bypass for Chichester is clouded in a fog of mystery, lack of transparency and suspected hidden forces bringing their influence to bear. We were offered a fully functioning and fit for purpose bypass running to the north of the city, which would properly separate local and through traffic. Now that this option is no longer in the HE consultative document, we are being asked to select one of five that manifestly does not meet the basic requirements of a true bypass.
Secondly, there is a suspicion that priority in the five options has been given to through traffic at the expense of local traffic to promote wider HE strategic aims.
Thirdly, the early front runner in the poll, Option 2, comes in at £280 million, will take 41 months to complete and will save the wholly underwhelming figure of two minutes on local journey times. On what cost-benefit analysis is this a good use of taxpayers’ money? The prospect of such a protracted construction period and the ensuing traffic chaos is not one that any Chichester motorist can look forward to.
Fourthly, unlike many supporters of Option 2, local residents have taken the opportunity to drill down into the detail of this option and what the full implications are. Based on their local knowledge and experience they have identified many adverse effects not taken into consideration by HE.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is waiting to kick in as motorists seek new rat runs along narrow and dangerous roads. No real consideration has been given to what happens to all the traffic on the new Stockbridge Link Road when traffic hits the B 2145.
Fifthly, the environmental damage which appears to be a factor in rejecting the northern route, will now be transferred south of the A27. Focusing on the specific adverse factors that will affect Stockbridge/Donnington residents if Option 2 goes ahead the following have been highlighted:
The construction of the new flyover where the A286 joins the A27 will result in the demolition of 18 houses with others having their outlook dominated by this construction.
Stockbridge/Donnington residents will finish up trapped between two busy roads.
There will be no saving of journey times for these residents. Access to the A27 and other journeys will require additional time to allow for the changes consequent on Option 2.
The amenity value of the Chichester Canal will be severely compromised by the construction of a bridge to take the new Stockbridge Link Road over the canal. It is a priceless asset and genuine haven of tranquillity and HE have totally ignored the impact on this precious space.
As if to admit the weakness and unsuitability of Option 2, HE have stated they will have to revisit this route again in the future to upgrade it. The Northern route requires no such upgrading apparently. More expense, more disruption, more lack of forethought.
This list is by no means exhaustive but I hope it gives a flavour of why there is a substantial body of opinion ticking the ‘No Option’ choice. We were promised a bypass, it was dangled in front of us and in the best ‘now you see it, now you don’t‘ tradition it has vanished in a puff of smoke.
We are not embittered reactionaries, all we want is a genuine bypass which satisfies the need of local and through traffic, not a number of hastily cobbled together compromises none of which meets the needs of residents.