FURIOUS parishioners have blasted Highways England after it repeatedly blocked moves to save the Oving crossroads.
Since 2012, residents have been trying to prevent the A27 crossroads being scrapped as part of the 500-home development at nearby Shopwyke Lakes.
After the development was approved, appearing to spell the end of the road for campaigners, Oving Parish Council then launched its own planning application to see the lights retained.
However, parish council chairman Sjoerd Schuyleman said Highways England, formerly called the Highways Agency, had placed so many insurmountable barriers in their path it did not seem possible their application would succeed.
“It will affect tens of thousands of people that use the traffic lights at the moment, but also those using the Chichester bypass, where the congestion will get worse,” he said of the lights’ closure.
He said many people were ‘markably upset’ about having the lights closed. Oving’s campaign had drawn widespread support from parishes across Chichester and Arun districts.
A meeting between Oving campaigners – who formed the group Leave Oving Lights Alone (LOLA) – and Highways England took place in March, with planners from Chichester District Council present to arbitrate.
Despite initially having high hopes, Cllr Schuyleman described Highways England as ‘intransigent’.
“We’ve been battling against the Highways Agency for the best part of two-and-a-half years,” he said.
“Totally undemocratic would be the only way to describe it. We’ve tried as much as possible to provide what they’ve requested but it’s a never-ending thing in that no sooner do you provide what they have asked for – and you’ve had to pay for – than they change it and say ‘no we want more’.
Highways England has placed four separate holding orders on Oving’s application, preventing it from being considered by Chichester District Council’s planning committee.
A Highways England spokesman was unable to go into specific detail because of the impending election.
However, he said the agency could only decide whether or not to support applications based on empirical evidence, saying there was criteria it needed to meet.