Many local residents are concerned about further housing development as a consequence of A27 improvements.
Two of the leaked options for improvement to the existing A27 to the south of the City involve a new southern link road connecting the Fishbourne roundabout with the roundabout at the junction of the B2145 Selsey and the B2166 Bognor Regis roads.
Although the actual route cannot be determined in detail, it involves the construction of a two mile long rural road through current agricultural land, curving around the south of Stockbridge, then crossing the Chichester Ship Canal before joining the B2145/B2166 roundabout.
Clearly, this could open up the possibility of two substantial future developments:
- First, infilling eastwards from the A286 along the Stockbridge settlement boundary either side of the B2201 Donnington road, then eastwards as far as the Canal.
- The second is shown in purple to the south of the A27 on the accompanying and annotated Chichester District Council map, and is identified by CDC as a potential future development site of around 250 acres. This site extends to the boundary of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, shown as a dotted red line on the map.
- While it is the duty of local authorities to preserve and enhance the landscape and natural beauty of such areas, there is a greater responsibility to safeguard internationally recognised sites which are subject to a much stronger level of environmental protection under European and UK legislation.
- This area is one such location, designated a Ramsar site, a Special Protection Area, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
- The proximity of any major development presents a serious threat to the wild bird life of such sites. This area is specifically covered in CDC’s adopted Local Plan and under its Policy 50.
Those who oppose a northern bypass claim that it will almost inevitably result in all the land between the bypass and the City being filled with further housing. However, a simple look at the map shows why this is most unlikely:
- Two Strategic Development Locations have already been declared in the adopted Local Plan and are shown hatched in orange – West of Chichester SDL and Westhampnett/NE Chichester SDL. Planning permission for 300 houses in the latter has very recently been granted.
- Planning permission has already been granted for the Shopwyke site to the east of the A27 near Oving.
- The map also shows a number of small sites already identified in purple in the north of the City.
Within or alongside a possible northern bypass there are a number of previously existing developments or designated sites limiting any further significant development:
- To the immediate northwest of Chichester along Hunters Race there are three connected proposed gravel extraction sites, and two mineral sites that have been worked in the past. A new solar farm is also located in this area as shown on the map. This would very likely preclude any housing development.
- A northern bypass would have to cross the Lavant river bed to the south of Lavant itself and then skirt the sewage farm north of Fordwater. Following New Road along the Lavant Straight, there is the aerodrome and motor circuit to the immediate south of this road, and the Valdoe gravel extraction site to the north. No development can take place along these sections.
- The route then appears to passes Westerton, Strettington and the Temple Bar Business Park to rejoin the existing A27. Any development along this section would need the cooperation of the landowner, but would be limited to single or small numbers of houses. The Environment Agency shows a medium probability flood risk in parts of this area.
So, there are very limited opportunities for development of any magnitude, and any claims that all the open space between a northern route and the City would quickly become one huge house building project are patently incorrect and alarmist.
We hope and expect that even the most ardent opponent of a northern bypass is not going to suggest that any further new housing in the District should be to the south and east. All parts of the City and its surroundings should bear their fair share.
Finally, a word about the South Downs National Park:
This shares a short section of its boundary with the Lavant Straight. Many will say that this is a protected area, and they are right. However, it does not have the internationally protected designations as does the Chichester Harbour AONB. It is therefore worth remembering that with its feeding and resting grounds for migrating and overwintering birds, the Harbour – a treasure on our doorstep open to all – is much more sensitive to neighbouring development than the National Park.