DEFEATED campaigners have accused the Highways Agency of ‘blackmailing’ a committee into approving the closure of Oving traffic lights.
Members of the Leave Oving Lights Alone (LOLA) campaign expressed their dismay as Chichester district councillors approved the plans for 500 homes, including the closure of the lights.
Councillors wanted to amend the application to allow it to go ahead without the closure. However, the Highways Agency said it would ‘object’ to any changes to the application.
Speaking after the meeting, Sjoerd Schuyleman, chairman of LOLA, said he felt the committee had been ‘blackmailed’.
“We need to look at what other options we have now,” he said.
Alan Smith, also of LOLA, said: “Never before has so few made it so bad for so many.”
The Shopwyke application, the first of the ‘big four’ from the local plan, went before the development control committee last month.
Despite being largely positive about the development, members deferred the decision in the hope an alternative to closing the lights could be found.
At last week’s meeting, members heard developers had put forward nine new ideas for road layout but the Highways Agency rejected them all.
“We asked the developer to come back with an alternative, but they have not done this,” said committee member Quentin Cox.
“I am in favour of the development of this site but we have not solved the problem of the roads.”
Committee member Simon Oakley again proposed permitting the application but without the changes to the A27 crossing.
However, Peter Phillips, of the Highways Agency, said they would ‘object’ to any changes to the application.
LOLA members said they would continue to campaign against the removal of the lights.
If the lights are taken away, cross traffic from Oving Road to Shopwhyke Road and vice versa, will be closed off to the A27.
The campaign to keep the lights had been backed by Westbourne House School.
The plan before the committee was an outline application, meaning a full application with design details will have to be submitted later.