Underpass a ‘brilliantly bold suggestion’ for Chichester’s Southern Gateway

Illustrative view of a new 'Forum' building next to Chichester Railway Station proposed by the Gateway+ team (photo submitted).
Illustrative view of a new 'Forum' building next to Chichester Railway Station proposed by the Gateway+ team (photo submitted).

Creating an underpass diverting traffic underneath Chichester’s railway line in Basin Road has been broadly supported by readers.

Chichester District Council says it has previously discounted both a bridge and underpass as ways of closing the two level crossings after analysis by experienced traffic engineers.

Proposed underpass to replace the Basin Road level crossing (photo submitted).

Proposed underpass to replace the Basin Road level crossing (photo submitted).

But the Gateway+ team have included an underpass in their masterplan for the Southern Gateway area published earlier this week.

The proposal was broadly welcomed on the Observer’s Facebook page this week. One reader said: “A brilliantly bold suggestion. What a good idea.”

Another said: “This would be perfect.”

A number of readers described an underpass as a great idea, while others suggested a solution for the area should have been put in years ago.

Members of the Gateway+ team Richard Plowman, Brian Raincock, and Geoff Thorpe SUS-181005-162617001

Members of the Gateway+ team Richard Plowman, Brian Raincock, and Geoff Thorpe SUS-181005-162617001

The most common complaint being the lengthy waits for motorists when the level crossing barriers are down.

But another user wrote: “Far too costly and not enough space for access and exit ramps to name but a few.”

Several did ask if an underpass would be prone to flooding given its location.

The Gateway+ ‘FORUM masterplan’ would centre around an ‘iconic building’ on the south side of a major new public square fronting on to both South Street and Avenue de Chartres.

This would be 34,000 square feet of highly flexible, sub-divisible space at street level with further smaller breakout spaces and ‘people servicing’ above.

The building will be accessed from a glass walled atrium providing an internal extension of the outside public square.

The wider development would include a high-quality hotel and multi-use forum quarter, a mix of residential and workspace accommodation together with retail and leisure facilities.

A multitude of large and small events, conferences, exhibitions, and entertainment could then be accommodated in this part of the city.

A spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “We carried out extensive public consultation on the Southern Gateway project in 2017 and as part of this we investigated the potential of a bridge and underpass.

“The analysis undertaken by experienced traffic engineers discounted the possibility on several grounds, including environmental, technical and cost grounds. The district council and its strategic partners, Homes England and West Sussex Council, will be placing the Southern Gateway development opportunity on the market shortly and we look forward to receiving ideas and proposals from potential development partners.

“It is anticipated that a partner will be appointed in June 2019.”

But the idea of an underpass has been backed on the Chichester Society’s website.

A recent post said: “Of all proposals to unlock the level crossing conundrum, this option could work. Chichester District Council are urged to give this idea due consideration. This is a once in a lifetime chance for a solution to the level crossing embarrassment.”

Join the debate on our Facebook page or email the newsdesk.

Related stories:

Approved Southern Gateway plans ‘art of the possible’

Southern Gateway plans ‘fish fingers not Dover sole’

‘Level crossings must be closed’ as part of Chichester Southern Gateway plan

Chichester Southern Gateway project seeking development partner

VIDEO: New vision for ‘major civic facility’ at Chichester’s Southern Gateway