The streets of the City are key to its vitality; they support movement through and within the built up area but also provide the majority of our public realm and public spaces, shaping the very character and feel of the city itself. In January 2016 West Sussex County Council, working in partnership with Chichester District Council, convened two stakeholder workshops in quick succession as part of a study into how we can make the best use of our streets.

To lead on this, the County Council has commissioned specialist transport planning consultants WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to undertake a ‘Road Space Audit’ for the city. This has included a detailed assessment of parking activity (on and off-street) as well as a review of previous transport studies and available data concerning traffic movements, public transport, walking, cycling, the urban realm and many other factors. The information from these surveys and desktop studies is currently being analysed.

The next critical step for the team was to engage directly with key stakeholders so that the issues are considered from a wide variety of perspectives and options, making sure better use of the road space and parking stock are developed with those perspectives in mind. The consultants presented the emerging findings of the work carried out to date and some conceptual tools for reallocating road space in Chichester. Through a series of exercises at the workshop, they invited comments on the pros and cons of each.

The first workshop was arranged for what WSCC termed their  ‘technical stakeholders’ (e.g. transport operators, local authority officers, emergency services) followed by a second workshop for a number of resident/community groups and well as representatives from local facilities and businesses.

The workshops were encouraged to consider the following:

What are your visions and aspirations for Chichester? What would you like it to be like, now and in the longer term?

  1. What do you consider to be the key issues or barriers to Chichester becoming that place, from the perspective of the group/interest you represent?
  2. To what extent do the following themes represent issues or barriers and what opportunities do you think there are to improve them within the context of Chichester?
  • On-street parking
  • Off-street parking
  • Traffic management
  • Urban Realm and pedestrian environments
  • Sustainable transport

First tourism, then a vision and now a road audit? Things are certainly moving Chichester!

Meeting for public stakeholders – Friday 29 January 2016.

WSCC have commissioned Parsons Brinckerhoff consultants to carry out a “road space audit” on Chichester. It is a sort of pilot study to examine various concept solutions to the problems of parking, which may later be used in other parts of the county. The study thus focuses on generic ideas rather than site-specific problem areas. The meeting was a presentation to general public stakeholders (essentially local Residents’ Associations). A similar meeting with business/authorities had been held last week.

About 20 people were present with Colin Hicks and John Davies representing WGRA. Chairman was Miles Davey WSCC and presentations were by Matt Croucher and Andrew Potter of Parsons Brinckerhoff consultants. Attendees were provided with an electronic device with which to vote on various issues/statement positions. Votes were recorded and will doubtless appear under “Public Consultation” in the final report.

Vision and Objectives

WSCC emphasised that the aim of the workshop was to present and discuss concepts and philosophies. Anything concrete would have to go through the normal presentation and planning process.

They started by presenting a list of 20 items under the heading “Visions and Objectives”. These were broadly to create a more sustainable use of the current road space and move traffic management into an era that would:

  • Better protect the historic core of the city
  • Significantly shift transport behaviour towards public transport, walking and cycling
  • Stimulate increased economic opportunity and growth, as had been demonstrated elsewhere

Parking supply and traffic management

Their introduction then included general stuff on Chichester but with some interesting data on past traffic modelling (by Jacobs) and effects of new development (increases of 32% in households/population in the city by 2029).

They appear to have carried out good surveys of on- and off- street parking and presented material on that. I understand that info has already been sent to WSCC and could/should be on their website.

For city car parks they showed an overall occupancy of 78% (presumably at peaks). However most spare capacity seemed to be in Ave de Chartres suggesting that most of the rest must be near full.

Tackling parking issues

For on-street parking they surveyed about 20 streets both inside and outside the Residents Permit Zones (RPZ). This highlighted that there were areas – not far from the centre – with spare street parking capacity. The idea they were looking at was “parking performance pricing”(this was a bit tricky to understand and needs more details and thought if they take it forward!). Essentially one could have more marked up parking bays but with users and prices flexible according to observed demand.

Reallocating road space: improved places and sustainable transport corridors

They followed this with an interesting discussion on “re-allocating road space” – examining certain locations and querying whether the space currently given over to “road” for moving cars, could not be better used (e.g. wider pavements for pedestrians, more parking spaces). Another example would be “shared surfaces” – Colin cited The Hornet as an ideal if very tricky potential spot.

Reallocating road space: to, not through

Final section was entitled “to, not through” – i.e. discouraging people who wanted to avoid the A27 from trying to drive through the centre of the city. This fell rather flat as every one agreed with its aim and is hoping A27 upgrades will achieve it!

Impacts on Westgate

From a Westgate point of view, they appreciate the need for residents near the centre to have parking spaces so that they can walk rather than drive around town. They also highlighted the cyclist conflict areas, problems of cyclists on pavements and the need to keep walking attractive. There was also a proposal to convert the Ave de Chartres roundabout into what is known as a Dutch solution (with dedicated cycle and pedestrian entrances and exits). Tucked away into the proposals also was an upgrade of the parking available at the West end of Westgate to allow for better sharing and more effective chicane traffic calming by parking vehicles in small lots perpendicular to the pavement, with National Cycle Route 2 on the opposite side.

Their final report is due in the Spring. I am sure we will get a copy.

This report of the meeting with local Residents’ Associations to discuss the WSCC Chichester Road Use Audit is by John Davies of the WGRA Committee’s Traffic Action Group. The post is the third and final in a mini-series on a gathering set of proposals which may finally go some way to halting the economic decline of Chichester, the progressive spoiling of its heritage and the decay of its public realm. Read post one here.

Colin Hicks

Site Admin - Westgate Residents' Association Chichester

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