Chichester’s future on the line

A northern bypass would cut through this countryside

A northern bypass would cut through this countryside

The last few weeks has seen a flurry of activity in Chichester as it becomes increasingly clear that Highways England has ambitions for a Chichester northern bypass.  This has come as rather a shock to many as it has long been thought of as accepted and agreed that the way forward to tackling the congestion (although that’s a bit like chasing the holy grail) was to upgrade the existing junctions with flyovers.

Quite where this has come from remains to be seen, but it would appear to be driven by a number of factors:

  1. Cost – apparently it would be cheaper (financially) than upgrading the existing road although that does not include the true cost of the damage it would cause.
  2. Ease of construction – it would be less disruptive to the existing A27 to build a new road offline.
  3. Local politics – perhaps the deciding factor here in encouraging Highways England towards this path. It would seem that somewhere within Chichester District and West Sussex County Councils there has been a strong push for a northern bypass.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people are unhappy, particularly those in the north of Chichester and Lavant and other local communities who will be impacted by the road.  It would bring a lot of fast moving traffic very close to and at one point into the South Downs National Park, causing significant harm, as well as cutting off the city from its countryside setting.  It could also have serious implications for the future of the Rolls Royce factory and the Goodwood Estate.

Another effect is that it could lead to infill development between the city and the new road. However, a bigger impact is that with the removal of traffic from the existing road there is likely to be a rash of new out of town car based developments around the south of the city. This would further undermine the city centre and lead to the existing A27, which would be de-trunked and renamed, rapidly filling up with traffic again.

However, the good burghers of Chichester are not taking this lying down and already there has been a local group established to oppose this madness. Chichester Deserves Better which says it all really, already has a website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and is urging people to sign its petition calling on Andrew Tyrie MP and local councillors to oppose a northern bypass.