Chichester’s Business Improvement District (BID) has condemned ‘hugely disruptive’ roadworks in the city, in the run-up to Christmas.
Motorists travelling in Chichester during rush hour have endured traffic chaos over the last few weeks and it could be about to get worse, when the railway line between Chichester and Havant is shut for nine days during the autumn half term, and between Barnham and Havant every weekend from this one until December 1 (excluding the weekend of November 23).
Some of the recent road traffic problems have been caused by the A27 Portfield scheme, being carried out by Highways England. The scheme is part of planning permission for the new Shopwyke Lakes development and has seen the A27 narrowed. It commenced on a number of roads, including the A27 Chichester bypass, A27 Westhampnett bypass, Portfield Way, Shopwhyke Road and Oving Road in May and is scheduled to end in autumn 2020.
Spitalfield Lane has also seen huge disruption, due to the temporary traffic lights set up whilst gas main work takes place, which is due to end on November 29. A spokesman for SGN, which authorised the scheme back in August, said the works were ‘essential’ and would benefit the city in the long run.
Melbourne Road is also closed until November 15 in conjunction with the work in Spitalfield Lane. Stane Street is due to include multi-way signals from November 4 for work on new shared cycling provision and Church Road is also set to close overnight from November 4 to December 7.
Stop/Go boards are also in operation in Tangmere Road for access to a Southern Water compound as part of the Chichester improvement scheme.
BID ask for 'more considered and strategic approach' to scheduling roadworks
A spokesperson for Chichester BID said: “We agree that these roadworks are hugely disruptive for businesses, shoppers and visitors to Chichester, especially at Christmas which is a critical time for the high street.
"We would like to see the local authorities take a more considered and strategic approach to scheduling roadworks, reviewing the impact these works will have on the city and local businesses.”
West Sussex County Council has since responded. A spokesman said: “A number of different utilities companies and other works promoters are currently carrying out important engineering projects in and around Chichester.
"West Sussex County Council, as the highways authority, assesses each application to carry out works on the highway on its merits to ensure works are carried out in a timely and orderly fashion.
"Unfortunately sometimes there are occasions when schemes overlap, due to unforeseen circumstances, urgent or emergency works being required. But when considering all applications we do take into consideration any seasonal events that are planned to try and ensure minimal disruption to road users as possible.”
Have you read?: Chichester traffic chaos — Is it about to get worse?
'Congestion is making people nervous'
The Observer has also spoken to business owners in the city, to find out their thoughts about the ongoing roadworks.
Clothkits owner Kay Mawer, who helped set up the petition against the traffic lights in the Hornet, said: “There is so much congestion around Chichester and it creates nerves for people. It makes them want to avoid the city and go somewhere else.
"We need to make the city as appealing to visitors as possible. Having all these works going on at the same time is counter productive. Doing the work at night, like they do on motorways, would be a no brainer.”
Jay Sadler, joint-owner of Goodrowes in the Hornet, said the congestion is ‘affecting people getting into our yard’. He added: “The affect of the roadworks is bad. A big problem is the traffic lights outside here.”
Judy Wiseman, a volunteer at Retro and Vintage in the Hornet, said: “My son lives in Spitalfield Lane and the roadworks there are causing a lot of issues.
"If they can [do the works at night or at less busy times], it would be a good idea."
Another business owner, who asked not to be named, said the main problem is the noise created by the build-up of cars in the city.
He added: "It is annoying for shoppers and businesses in Chichester."
'Traffic is is worse in Chichester than in London'
Observer readers have also been having their say on the traffic chaos. Jo Beeby said the traffic is ‘worse in Chichester than when I lived in London’, whilst Yvonne Norris said ‘it is quite appalling’ that there is ‘so much at the same time’.
Another reader, who has named himself Rampant Rupert on Facebook, wrote: "Traffic is without doubt getting worse and worse each year. The network is overcrowded, and just talk of improvements, and little practical action.
"A huge step forward would be student free subsidised bus passes. Costs are too high for regular families to manage these and yet it would get hundreds of cars off the roads at peak times."
Kay O'Grady said the traffic is 'terrible everywhere' She added: "I sit in it until I get to the free school, then to queue onto the A27, then more queues to get to the hospital and then do it all again at the end of the day."
Molly Palmer lamented 'dreadful' traffic outside her house in St Pancras. She wrote: "[We] constantly have cars stuck in traffic right outside our house. Also takes forever to even get out of the parking space and join the traffic queue."
Thomas Mills said the situation is 'definitely getting worse' and 'something needs to be done'.