It is unlikely now that the WHF outline planning application will be considered at the March meeting of the CDC Planning Committee but we need to remain vigilant. Generally matters of detail may not need be considered at the stage of outline permission, but we run the risk of the CDC eventually approving the outline plan on the assumption that the developer can fulfill all their delivery promises later on.
The goalposts keep moving all the time as the developer seeks to meet objections raised, with the result that many of the proposals in the outline will never see the day.
As a result of the local Plan EIP the WHF developer is obliged, indeed committed, to delivering a complete, safe and dedicated cycle route from WHF to the City Centre; “safe” being the key word. This is to help towards making WHF a sustainable transport site. Proposals so far have not achieved this safe cycle route.
Many of us do not understand the transport and traffic issues associated with the WHF development nor the impact and practicality of delivering what are just our personal ideas. This is particularly true in understanding the rather counter-intuitive notion that the management of existing and future vehicular traffic is key to enabling the delivery of a dedicated safe complete cycle route in Westgate.
A consensus is emerging that to get a satisfactory set of traffic mitigation solutions along Westgate, a solution has to be found that supports the creation of a sustainable and safe cyclist route into the City Centre from Westgate. This assurance of delivering a safe, complete and dedicated cycle route from WHF to the City Centre could be made clear now as a condition on any approval of an outline application. The developer needs to produce proposals/plans that convince the planning committee that this can be delivered.
A radical solution?
It would be true to say that the short link road between the Sherborne Road-Westgate mini roundabout and the larger Via Ravenna-Cathedral Way roundabout has been the source of increasing rat-running through Parklands and Westgate from the day it was opened. How about closing the existing short link road between Sherborne Road mini roundabout and the larger college/Via Ravenna/Cathedral Way roundabout? And then connect the southern access road from the WHF development directly to this college roundabout, without any connection into the Sherborne Road/Westgate roundabout?
This would leave the whole of Parklands and Westgate as a self-contained residential area, unattractive to longer distance through-traffic, and basically forming a local road network for local people. It would reduce traffic flows on these local roads and give greater opportunity for providing a suitable safe local cycle route between WHF and the City Centre.
It would be desirable to have a ‘southern exit only’ for the Whitehouse Farm site, which would avoid all motorised through traffic for the whole of the Whitehouse Farm site (as is the case with the East Broyle estate) and would largely confine the traffic entering and leaving the Whitehouse Farm site to a short direct link with the A27.
This would avoid additional traffic down the Old Broyle Road, and with some care along both Sherborne Road and Westgate. On the other hand, the precise manner in which it would link with the A27 would need very careful planning. Precisely how does the Chemroute proposal intend to get cyclists from the A259 to Westgate? Presumably they would want to follow the Salterns Way cycle route under the A27?
Such a solution would mean that all Parklands traffic from the south of the estate would have to use Westgate to access places such as the A27, Waitrose, Bishop Luffa, Chichester College, the Westgate leisure centre, the railway station and Tesco.
Westgate residents will need therefore predicted traffic figures before supporting such a solution. Could it mean for instance, constant traffic throughout the day rather than heavy traffic just at peak times in Westgate as at present?
But what are the alternatives?
A Southern Access Only from WHF
This is likely to be unacceptable by the highway authority as a result of objections from the emergency services. WSCC did have a policy that with more than 100 houses there had to be a second emergency access and with more than 250 houses there had to be two main accesses, although it is unclear if this still holds.
Linking the southern access directly to the A27
There is a possibility of linking directly to the A27 via a new grade-separated junction some 1 Km west of the existing A27 Tesco Roundabout, but this would require additional land to be acquired by the developer and would be very costly. It also may not be supported by Highways England who would be concerned by a new junction so close to the existing one at Tesco – except that the recent proposals to build the northern bypass may supersede these concerns. Indeed, such a link has its merits in that it could be delivered as part of a northern bypass for Chichester that would also cater for increased WHF traffic.
The down-side of this would be that to access the A27 Tesco Roundabout or Tescos, Parklands traffic would have a longer journey using either St Paul’s Road to the north or more likely Westgate / Avenue de Chartres / Via Ravenna and finally Cathedral Way to the south. But actually, that is what these local distributor roads were designed for and perhaps this is a small price to pay for the huge benefit of reclaiming local roads for local people. There may also be objections from East Broyle but they could use the link road through or abutting the development if it was suitably designed.
This post is the last in a weekly series of five “what-if?” suggestions proposed in parallel published over the 2015 festive season, that sought to provoke your thoughts about solutions to the traffic impacts of the development on Westgate, but which may also never see the day.
We have now given you some thoughts and suggestions on solutions to the WHF development but as we have seen in the past month, things move very fast! We will know better what the opportunities and options for us are when Highways England consult on their proposals for the A27 next spring (see this post).