In all the discussions about the Shopwyke Lakes development and whether the Oving traffic lights crossing should close, it’s disappointing little consideration is being given to the impact on residents on the Chichester side of the A27 if the development goes ahead without the crossing being closed.
Oving Road simply will not be able to cope with the extra volume of traffic. This is a narrow residential street which is already heavily used by traffic entering and leaving Chichester and which, from the mini roundabout with Florence and St James Roads, becomes in effect a one-lane carriageway due to the almost permanent parking of vehicles on one side. To go ahead with the development without closing the crossing will produce intolerable traffic conditions and adversely affect the well-being of local residents and road users.
The representations from the private Westbourne House School and the petition of (mostly) motorists in favour of maintaining the crossing amount to little more than the inconvenience of having to enter and leave Shopwhyke Road via the Portfield or Bognor Road roundabounts. But for the residents here and in particular to the parents and children from the Arundel Park development trying to cross the busy Oving Road on foot to attend the state primary school in St James Road, the impact will be very real indeed.
Not only that, but the district council’s Chichester south local committee, comprising local division/ward councillors, has agreed Oving Road should become a 20mph zone to reduce traffic, lower speeds and improve the safety and living conditions of all road-users and residents. If the committee then allows a major new development without closing the crossing and thus channels a significant increase in traffic into a 20mph zone area, it would not only be perverse, but would give the impression that local councillors are incapable of taking a coherent approach to traffic management and well-being of their residents.
From reading the reports, it’s not clear to me whether these points have been put before the district council committee, largely because the Highways Agency recommendation to close the crossing is to maintain traffic flows on the trunk road and not to the address the impact on adjoining residential streets.
I have, therefore, asked those committee members to consider these factors in coming to a decision and to remember that it isn’t always those who write the most letters and sign petitions who reflect where the public interest really lies.