Serious concerns about the potential impact of the proposed Shopwyke Lakes development and other major housebuilding schemes already taking place in the Chichester area on an already ‘grossly overcrowded’ route into the city have been expressed.
And the city council’s planning and conservation committee postponed a decision on whether to oppose or support the ambitious scheme until detailed extra information about traffic issues and possible mitigation measures is available.
A final decision on an application for planning permission will be taken by the district council later in the year, after considering the views of residents and bodies including the city council.
Hanbury Properties want to build up to 500 new homes on the 31-hectare site, which will include 12.5 hectares of new parkland – twice the size of Priory Park.
Features will include a care home for the elderly, community facilities, small-scale retail and leisure facilities, a sports pavilion and cycle and pedestrian routes.
There was a welcome from some city councillors for a major development on the brownfield site, which includes former gravel workings.
But chairman Cllr Michael Woolley said the main problem he had was to do with access, and the fact that highways links to the city were so poor.
“This site is separate from Chichester and the A27 and of the three routes going into Chichester, Westhampnett Road is grossly overcrowded,” he added.
“If this goes in, together with new development at Graylingwell and Portfield, and new retail warehouses, I wonder how long Westhampnett Road can stand up.”
Oving Road was very narrow, and there would also be tremendous extra strain on Bognor Road, which was very narrow as well. He would like to see a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the bypass, and the closure of Oving Road.
Paul Jackson-Cole, an independent traffic engineer for the applicants, said a Chichester area transport model was due to come back soon from the Highways Agency. This would assess the impact the development would have on Westhampnett Road, Oving Road and Bognor Road, and on the wider road network as well.
The committee was told the agency’s data would be submitted to West Sussex County Council, the local highways authority, for consideration.
Possible new measures could include improvements to the Bognor Bridge roundabout; a phasing plan was suggested for new transport infrastructure.
Cllr Richard Plowman said he welcomed the development of the brownfield site. “We all know we need houses in this area,” he added, asking whether the development was seen as an extension to the city, or as a stand-alone sustainable development.
Architect Marcus Adams said it was an extension to Chichester, but from the community planning aspect it also had a relationship with Westhampnett, Tangmere and Oving; people would be drawn to the city, and not just to the city centre. The development was not big enough to be self-sustainable, but it was believed a combination of the 500 homes and local employment sites and mixed uses meant a small store would be viable.