A planning application to save the Oving traffic lights from closure has been ‘red carded’ by a councillor due to the ‘exceptional public interest’.
Chichester district councillor Paul Jarvis’ (North Mundham) action means the application will now have to be determined by the council’s planning committee - music to the ears of those who have long fought the crossroads closure.
Oving Parish Council submitted a new application to keep the lights in May, and it has already gained wide support from residents and parish councils, as well as Chichester City Council.
Scores of support letters have been lodged, with only a few objections so far.
Speaking at Bognor Town Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee meeting on Tuesday night, Oving chairman Sjoerd Schuyleman said: “A district councillor has now submitted a red card proceedure to Chichester district planning officers.
“That means our application has to be considered by the committee.”
He said his council would now look to write to each of the planning commitee members to call for their support.
Mr Schuyleman explained that if the crossing is closed, access from Oving to the A27 and Chichester would either go north, straight through the Shopwhyke Lakes 585-home development and join the A27 to the east of the Portfield Roundabout, or south along Drayton Lane, over the crossing to then join the A259 Bognor Road.
This, he said, would leave Oving and the surrounding villages ‘isolated’ and cut off from Chichester.
And in a move he called ‘madness’, he said the crossing, while closed to general traffic, could still be used by buses. There would still be lights in place which could only be used by pedestrians crossing the A27, meaning traffic on the busy road could still be brought to a ‘standstill’.
Bognor Mayor Pat Dillon said: “I think that’s ludicrous. Expecting traffic to go through this new housing estate, when we all know the roads they build aren’t adequate for even the people living there. It’s going to cause absolute chaos.”
Bognor Town Council agreed to add its support to the application, with cllr Dillon adding: “We are 100 per cent on your side.”
The crossing was earmarked for closure when the Shopwhyke Lakes development, currently being built, was approved in 2013.
Oving Parish Council has been fighting the decision ever since.
A previous application to keep the crossing was thwarted by the then Highways Agency, who imposed a series of ‘holding measures’.
But after the government authority became Highways England it lost its overall power to veto transport applications, which prompted the parish council to pick up the fight again and submit a fresh planning application.
All five options for improving the A27 around Chichester, released when the public consultations began last week, make reference to the lights being removed.
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