LETTER: Need to bring city back to life

What has happened to Chichester? There was a time when the city could boast a good hotel, the Dolphin and Anchor, much less traffic so that the Cross could act as a roundabout, the train station was modern and there was no chewing gum on the pavements.

Changes have not always been successful. The partial pedestrianisation must confuse tourists, Metro house is an eyesore, buses exude exhaust fumes by our mediaeval cathedral, the treasured independent shops have been priced out of retailing, replaced by charity shops and up to 25 per cent food and beverage outlets, although it often seems more than that! Traffic has to contend with two level crossings near a very tired railway station.

Eighty-year-olds say they won’t see a solution to the A27 problem in their lifetimes.

Perhaps in the 1930s 80-year-olds said they wouldn’t live to see the then proposed southern route of the A27 – but something must be done now. Let us hope that a decision on the A27 that minimises pollution from congestion during construction is made soon.

While we continue to wait for this, a vision is required to bring about a city that can compete with the best in the UK and beyond. The Southgate Plus plan gives an opportunity to create a complex which would achieve this. This would give a much needed auditorium for concerts and conferences, the Festival Theatre and Pallant House can be said to meet some needs but the Assembly Room and cathedral with no raked seating for audiences have real disadvantages.

We now have a Duke and Duchess of Sussex – where could we welome them for a large function in the county town? A quality hotel, large enough to host national and international conferences there (next to the railway) would make the venue convenient for delegates arriving from London and Gatwick. The station itself is very dated so a vision with a booking hall above track level would be much more welcoming. An exhibition space and new bus station make the whole scheme an attactive concept. We need to go ahead and do it to bring our city back to life.Remember that the cathedral spire which collapsed in 1861 was replaced and rededicated in six years. If they could do that then, why can’t we get on with something so essential now? Come on Chichester – grasp some nettles!

Richard Hancock, Deanery Close, Chichester