West Wittering beach: Changes to car park system would not prevent tailbacks, Estate says

The pay on entry system at West Wittering beach car park is not the cause of tailbacks in the village, a spokesman for the West Wittering Estate has said.

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 4:49 pm
People queueing for ice-cream at West Wittering beach in July

Traffic was caused by the sheer volume of vehicles coming down a single carriageway road, according to the spokesman, rather than people waiting to pay at the entrance to the car park.

The spokesman confirmed the Estate is currently looking at introducing pre-paid tickets to the car park – however they warned that this would not speed up entry.

The comments come after the Observer reported last month that a new scheme to improve traffic flows on busy summer days in the village had been used twice since it was approved in March and had ‘worked well’.

Several readers commenting on the story online suggested that changes to the beach car park could further help reduce delays.

Some said making visitors pay on exit or pay online before arriving could help, as could opening more than two gates for entry.

But the spokesman for the Estate said the current system of pay on entry was not the cause of tailbacks.

The spokesman said: “A couple of years ago the traffic could back up along the Estate road and potentially slowed traffic entering from the village green.

“However, since then we have doubled the number of pay lanes on busy days and employed additional marshals to shepherd traffic in.

“As a result, we can easily keep the traffic flowing within the Estate.

“The pay barriers no longer result in a tailback on the Estate road, so are certainly not causing traffic jams back up towards Chichester.”

The spokesman said the company had considered a pay on exit scheme but believed that queues to enter the car park would still exist, as the hold up is not caused by the barrier system.

Paying on exit would also delay visitors leaving and could leave motorists stuck in the car park late into the night, the spokesman said.

Having a pay and display style system would involve installing lots of payment machines around the estate, which would be a problem at the beach for several reasons, according to the spokesman.

As a fine sandy beach, the wind-blown sand ‘causes havoc’ with all manner of machinery.

The Estate’s property is also within an area subject to the highest environmental designations which makes it subject to ‘stringent controls and obligations’ as a property owner.

The spokesman said: “Securing planning permission for installation of any structure on the Estate’s land will always be complex, and the advice we have received from the various car park equipment and management solutions companies we have spoken to is that the machinery available will struggle in the environment in which we operate.”

Pre-paid tickets is an option the Estate is currently looking at, the spokesman confirmed, however this still ‘poses challenges to overcome’ and ‘essentially will not speed up entry’.

The spokesman said: “Whatever method of payment / entry that is used, there are still 5000 cars heading down to the bottom of the Manhood peninsula, this will unfortunately always cause delays as it has done for well over 50 years.

“However, and to reiterate, the investment West Wittering Estate has made to provide more staff, traffic management systems, better infrastructure and so on has improved traffic within the area - there are now fewer days where traffic congestion is as bad.

“We believe that the experimental Traffic Regulation Order will help to stay on top of this and it is only the odd exceptional day such as the 29th June where long delays are experienced.

“We continue to look into every option possible and work closely with traffic management companies and car park infrastructure companies – it is very much the intention of West Wittering Estate to ensure it is doing everything it can to improve traffic flow on the one to two times a year we experience high demand days and continue to protect the Estate’s natural environment and keep all visitors safe.”