The County Council’s consultation on their audit of the road space in Chichester has now closed; we hope you were able to find the time to send in your personal response. The Committee also considered its position and the Chairman has sent in the following letter to the County Council:

Introduction

The Westgate Resident’s Association (WGRA) made a response to the Chichester Road Space Audit (RSA) in December 2016 following a meeting of stakeholders, which may be seen at read here. The committee of WGRA have now asked the Traffic Advisory Group to make a more in-depth response.

Preamble

The City of Chichester is a residential city with little large industry. The city centre commerce is supported by visitors and residents. It is perceived that reducing car use in the city will improve the ambience in the city centre and should encourage more visits. Every car journey starts and ends with a parking space and evidence from other UK and European cities suggests that setting a maximum rather than a minimum number of spaces will control private car journeys. We feel that to do this in isolation is inadvisable in the absence of a comprehensive traffic policy which should also consider:

  • Encourage electric vehicles to reduce noise and atmospheric pollution.
  • Encourage cycling by the design of an integrated, complete and segregated cycle path system
  • Consider “Park and Ride” both by conventional buses from one or more out of town sites and smaller electrical vehicles to assist infirm but not necessarily disabled people get from the gateway carparks to the city centre.
  • Improve the servicing facilities for the commercial properties in the city centre.
  • Review bus timetables, routes and stops within the city.

There has been an outcry in the local press and elsewhere to the idea of further parking in residential areas. We note that the RSA is commissioned by the West Sussex County Council (WSCC) who control (and raise revenue) from Resident’s Parking while the Car Parks are controlled by the Chichester District Council. This is a conflict of interests.

City Centre Car Parking

We support in principle the reduction of private car journeys into the City Centre. It is suggested that this could be achieved by closing Little London and Baffin’s Lane Car Parks. This must however be achieved without disadvantaging vulnerable sectors of the community, the infirm as well as the registered disabled. We agree that many journeys, particularly to the Little London Car Park are made for convenience by fit drivers, who are able to walk, but prefer to pay not to. Many of these are from the wealthier part of the community and will not be deterred by raising prices. The opportunity to load heavy shopping is also a problem. The issue of “Infirm Permits” might be difficult to administer, but could be a solution, coupled with very short term (10 minutes) parking bays. The addition of other strategies as outlined in the introduction would support the reduction of car journeys.

Gateway Car Parking

We are concerned by the suggestion to limit commuter parking in the gateway carparks and move it on to residential roads. We accept that at times there is some spare capacity, but the ability for a resident to find a space near their house, whenever they want to, is an important part of a convenient life and to improve the city centre at the expense of the happiness of residents is not acceptable. We do support the extension of the Resident’s Parking scheme providing the primary aim is to improve parking for residents.

Until the benefits of an integrated traffic plan, as seen in other cities, become apparent, additional parking will be required to accommodate the displaced vehicles and to adsorb the inevitable increase in vehicles on the road. We note that there is no Gateway Carpark on the western side of the city. We feel that having commissioned this audit the WSCC should lead from the front and encourage their employees to travel to work by sustainable means. There is a car park behind the Record Office, which is reserved for Council Employees, which could form the basis of a Western Gateway Car Park. This would have season tickets, which could be purchased by WSCC employees on the same terms as other commuters.

Bicycles

There is considerable support for the use of cycles as an alternative to car journeys. Unfortunately, the cycling fraternity have recently lost a great deal of this support particularly from pedestrians, due to increased use of pedestrian pavements for cycling and their disregard of traffic regulations. The lack of warning bells on bicycles when riding on the pavement is also frequently raised as a concern. In order to encourage this form of sustainable travel, without further antagonising other sections of society it will be necessary to develop a network of segregated cycle lanes. These are likely to obstruct perking.

Westgate

This is a prime residential area and this must not be compromised. However, the route of the Southern Access Road to the Whitehouse Farm (WHF) development and how it will join the Cathedral Way Roundabout – not via the Westgate/Sherborne road roundabout, which will not cope with the additional traffic – must be decided before any useful discussion can take place. How will the local roads be reconfigured? What traffic volumes can be expected?

The WGRA have this year taken over care of the Westgate planters, which has considerably improved the views along the road. We accept that with the WHF changes some or all of these may be lost, but we are concerned that the environment should remain attractive and suitable for a residential area. We agree that there may be changes to the parking in the part of Westgate to the west of Parklands Road, but the eastern section must retain the resident’s parking as very few houses have rear access or off-road parking spaces.

Westgate has been designated as the main cycle route into the west of Chichester in the Local Plan and in the WHF developer’s submission. It also forms part of the South Coast Cycle Route and ‘ChEmroute (Chichester to Emsworth). To achieve a satisfactory situation, a segregated cycle route must be provided, probably on the south side of the carriageway with parking restricted to the north side. With current traffic flows it is not possible to continue this east beyond Mount Lane junction. A route up Mount Lane and then along the banks of the Lavant River as far as South Street could be a solution. If a major reduction in traffic flows and speeds can be achieved, then it would be possible to consider a shared car/cycle space in the eastern section, but with appropriate restrictions to stop cycles using the pavement.

Avenue de Chartres

We are unable to agree about the plan to make one carriageway a slow lane to enable extra parking. The view across the old Westgate fields towards the City Walls and the Cathedral is famous and historic. It will be compromised by a large number of parked cars even more than it is by the present traffic. We agree with the downgrading of the ring road.

Via Ravenna

This is an essential artery from the A27 to and from the city and must not be obstructed. We believe that parking will only be possible if the road width is increased. Vehicle speeds are fairly high along this road and serious car door accidents are likely. Via Ravenna is some way from the City Centre and is unlikely to be a popular parking venue for many visitors or commuters.

Conclusions

  • Parking arrangements should not be significantly changed in the absence of an overall traffic policy.
  • We do not support moving commuter parking from the Gateway Carparks to residential roads.
  • We support extension of the Resident’s Parking scheme providing it is organised primarily for the benefit of residents.
  • We are unable to discuss changes to parking in Westgate until the future configuration of the local road system is known.
  • Parking will be affected by decisions about segregated cycle paths which are likely to be adjacent to pedestrian pavements and obstruct parking opportunities.

 

For a full copy of the County Council’s Chichester Road Space Audit, click here. It is a long document, but contains a wealth of information and innovative ideas. For those with less time, the Executive Summary (sections 1.1.1 to 1.1.28) is informative and we hope it will encourage you to dip further into the document. 


Colin Hicks

Webmaster, Westgate Residents' Association Chichester

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