Many thanks to Louise Curry of Earth to Heaven Specialists in Handmade, Natural Willow Coffins for the loan of the coffin. It was beautifully, tastefully but simply crafted from natural materials.
We sent the following text to the local press to explain our objectives and motivations-
Campaigners met on Saturday to raise awareness of planning decisions that will affect the future quality and safety of cycle-ways in our city. Residents are aware that some planning for cycle routes is ongoing due to all the new developments coming to the City. Cyclists are keen to get across the message that provision must be of the highest quality to enable more people to leave their cars at home. Local campaigners were lent the coffin by Louise Curry of Earth to Heaven Eco Friendly Coffins. The Coffin represents the campaigners’ grief at the prospect of losing much loved cycle provision through a series of poor planning decisions.
Michael Neville, a resident of Bosham who cycles into the City for work, explained that he was particularly anxious about the proposed plans for Westgate. Michael said, “The plans incorporated into the S106 agreements show poor cycle provision. I use the A259 every day and at every stage of my commute, poor planning of new development is destined to make cycling increasingly impractical and unpleasant. There has to be an acknowledgement of a climate emergency. Every stage of planning must not simply consider, but prioritise opportunities to get people out of cars and moving around on foot or by bicycle”.
Mark Record added, “I fear that the car-centred design of the mini-roundabout at the junction of Sherborne Road and Westgate will prevent future cycle ways joining when the new access road from WHF gets put in. This locks in poor design on a key part of National Cycle Route 2”.
John Grimshaw, the original architect of Centurion Way and founder of Sustrans, contacted the campaigners expressing his disappointment with slow progress. “What a long struggle! One despairs that planning for walking and cycling provision is not being prioritised. Of course they should be taking a continuous and good quality route suitable for all through to the City Centre. Please let me know how best I can provide support“.
Sarah Sharp, Former Chair of ChiCycle, “I have come down to find out about the event today and to speak to campaigners about their concerns. I hope that the new Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure plan that the councils are working on will give us a much needed new chance to put together higher quality plans for the future – not only for the people in White House Farm but also for around the City with all the new developments going in.”
The Summerdale and Graylingwell estates are divided by a fence. Local Summerdale resident Steven Eccleston spoke with ChiCycle about the situation. He has two children and an exciting new play park has been constructed near his home. Previously there was a regularly used shortcut but a fence now prevents his family making the convenient short trip to the new play park.
Charlotte Webber standing by the community dividing fence, picture from the Chichester Observer
It is not only play park outings that the fence prevents. The blocked route was a convenient link for Summerdale residents to reach the new Aldi and Iceland shops. The Chichester Observer reports that Tracey Hoff “A disabled Summersdale resident said she can no longer walk to her local church after a fence was put up blocking a pathway.” Steven’s partner Charlotte Webber also spoke to the Chichester Observer and explained “the fence segregates lower income families and makes them feel neglected and, dare I say, deprived”.
Steven doesn’t understanding why local authorities and Linden Miller homes are unable to cooperate to provide even the most basic links between communities. He told us “There seems to be no connectivity between anywhere in Chichester and getting about without a car always involves having to go miles out of your way”. In local consultation meetings, Linden Miller developers frequently state their commitment to transport infrastructure allowing permeability between their developments and surrounding communities. Something is evidently going wrong in the negotiations between local residents, planning authorities and housing developers. ChiCycle will encourage residents to engage in discussions to help resolve these community transport issues.
Following the 5th April County Council meeting where our councillors unanimously supported Mr Michael Jones motion on Climate Change, ChiCycle wish to promote focus on sustainable transport and pressure our local politicians into adhering to their commitments. If our elected representative are genuinely committed to the objective of a zero carbon society, then this must be reflected immediately in our local town planning decisions. All new housing development must now be designed to promote sustainable modes of transport over and above the conventionally accepted desires of the motoring lobby.
Unfortunately current planning decisions for local housing developments do not follow the high aspirations of our elected officials. Draft plans for Whitehouse farm development show significant potential for down grading at least three local cycleways and footpaths. Local cyclists, pedestrians and environmentalists must reject these sub standard plans and demand a reappraisal targeted towards provision towards sustainable transport infrastructure.
To emphasise the importance of preserving existing cycle and footpath networks, ChiCycle is beginning production of a few short videos documenting the benefits local people enjoy from these community assets. The first of these videos follows Centurion Way from the bridge over Newlands lane to Chichester City centre.
The project is very much inspired by the work of Richard Vobes who produces videos under the name of the Bald Explorer. Indeed we are shamelessly copying (stealing) some of his mobile video making techniques but are unlikely to achieve his high levels of production quality. His website and videos are an enjoyable and fun look at local history and community and worth a watch.
Another crash at Basin Road unfolds its tale of human pain and agony. We don’t know the cause of the crash as police are still seeking witnesses, but we do know that not enough is being done to keep people safe in Chichester.
We know that timescales to deliver any improvements to this area are very slow and linked in with the major development to the area. If the Highways Infrastructure is to be left in the hands of the Developer I am seriously concerned that we will not end up with high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure that we need to promote people’s health and well-being and fulfil our climate change commitments.
We need urgent and radical re-designs of this gyratory system and all the other major gateways into the City. Above all we must start to put people first and champion people-centred places. Up to now our Highways Engineers have pursued the need to keep traffic moving, fighting congestion with more roads – all in the name of continuing economic growth.
We need to change all that. We aspire to healthy, green, clean and safe places for people to be. It is that which will attract more people into the City.
In the meantime, the state of our roads seriously puts people off walking or cycling. Whole areas become no-go zones – places we learn to avoid if we can help it. As a victim of a Road Traffic Collision on this very same road, I have changed my shopping and leisure habits radically as a result. I am only one person and my concerns are undeniably more acute than most people’s but I am not alone. We continue to push people on bikes and on foot into the margins at our peril.
The well being of the City doesn’t, contrary to most people’s beliefs, depend on abolishing or reducing car parking costs. It depends on people knowing they are safe.
At the moment we are not. We need to do more to ensure that we are. Waiting for WSCC and CDC to act is not enough.
The Chichester Post is running a story explaining how previously promised safe cycle routes are no longer likely to be put in place in Chichester. The full article is available to read here.
Promised Cycle infrastructure now seems unlikely to arrive at Graylingwell
The Post reports:
“Graylingwell Park housing developers agreed to build a cycle route. But county councillor Jeremy Hunt said he did not think this would happen because of opposition from Chichester Festival Theatre and Chichester District Council.”
The Paper also adds:
ChiCyle co-ordinator, Sarah Sharp said: “We have always said that new development needs proper links and road crossings as well as safe, segregated routes to allow people to leave their cars at home and feel safe while cycling into the city or crossing the road. New developments go in, but somehow it seems that developers and the council officers are unable to deliver the promised cycle and walking infrastructure. ”
The ChiCycle team are anxious a frequently repeating pattern is emerging. New housing developments are being granted planning permission based on conditions that are never met or enforced in practice. Indeed in this case the local authorities have actually impeded the project by refusing to reallocate space in a car park to facilitate more sustainable forms of transport use.
Published government planning guidelines explain:
Planning obligations are legal obligations entered into to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal. This can be via a planning agreement entered into under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by a person with an interest in the land and the local planning authority; or via a unilateral undertaking entered into by a person with an interest in the land without the local planning authority. Planning obligations are also commonly referred to as ‘section 106’, ‘s106’,
The ChiCycle team concern that a community may engage all its efforts into consultation to ensure responsible planning decisions are made but this is a meaningless waste of their time unless there is a realistic expectation that these s106 planning agreements will be adhered to. What chance do Chichester residents stand of transitioning towards sustainable transport use, when even new developments fail to deliver safe opportunities for residents to cycle?
Chicycle is extremely concerned that we are spending nearly £20,000 of public money on replacing perfectly adequate cycle racks. This is essentially a “prettification measure”. When you decide to travel by bike, when we as councils planning for health and to prevent climate change are trying to encourage cycling, the colour of the racks doesn’t matter. You need more racks… and you need to spend on safety on the streets. But replacing like for like is not essential especially despite all the planning documents (Chichester Vision Feasibility Study, Walking and Cycling Strategy, Growth Plan, Chichester Area Strategic Transport Investment Programme, Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan…) we don’t have a single length of segregated cycle lane to show for it – we have been commenting on such studies on behalf of ChiCycle supporters for nearly 10 years. All we are proposing today do is put in what, I must say, look like rather plain and sterile new racks as replacements for our perfectly sound existing racks.
Council tax has gone up again this year. In the past three years the city council’s precept has gone up by 3 ½ percent and 3 percent – which is in line with inflation if not everybody’s salary – but this year it’s up by 5 ½ percent which is well ahead of inflation and salaries. We owe it to our residents to take stock of what we are spending their money on. And I simply don’t think that a £20,000 prettification project is value for money. Particularly not when the hospital-sterile steel frames are so very unsympathetic to the city centre appearance and the oldy-worldy atmosphere of our York flagstones that visitors come to see (and fall over). (On the one hand we are wishing to retain the old flagstones and on the other we want to revamp the old fingerposts, bins and racks for shiny new steel).
If we are going to spend money, at least let our citizens and visitors see safety measures and something worthwhile, not just a very expensive spring clean. CIL monies should and must be spent on sustainable infrastructure that links the new developments into the city centre and allows people to travel sustainably and safely around the city. CIL monies should mitigate against the new development – this has nothing to do with a vanity project of “smartening up” the city especially when major safety measures are not being prioritised. We are repeatedly told that here are different pots of money and we can’t finance public realm / highways projects. There seem to be a lot in the pots for less important things for example a multitude of statues. When vital safety measures aren’t being funded, the pots need to be shared out better.
Friday 1st March sees the start of the consultation into parking on our city streets.
There will be an exhibition on Friday and Saturday in the City Council, North Street from 10 am – 4 pm as well as on 20th March. There will be one chance to get to the exhibition in the evening in Swanfield Community Centre 2-8 pm on 25th March.
It might be worth going along to find out more details as it will affect you if you drive into Chichester or if you live here and need to park on the street.
One of the downsides of charging for parking might be that we see more people wanting to pave over their front gardens with the loss of plants and drainage.
The wider aspects of the Road Space Audit have been put on the back burner, but it might be worth mentioning your support for more road space being allocated to bikes and buses and the “to not through” idea which aims to reduce traffic, or reducing the number of inner city car parks.
It might be worth asking where the monies from the charges are going.
Car Free Day is an international day that has been around for many years – it has long been a dream of mine to make this a focus for health and activity and clean air in Chichester. As a by-product I hope this would give the opportunity for more people to cycle more safely without fear or worry.
In 2010 I helped organise a take-over of a car parking space in Northgate Car Park but my dream has been to do something much larger and involving the whole community – a real celebration of the inner city space that we own collectively but don’t often use – or only allow motorised vehicles to use freely.
There are lots of spaces within the city walls of Chichester that shout out for more use to be made of them. They are the hidden away bits that you discover when you aren’t on the main streets – when you wander behind the shops or cut down a twittern for example behind M&S alongside the Oxmarket or behind the Pallants and Baffins Lane. Much of this space is given over to bins and car parking and deliveries – but I imagine that this space used to be gardens, orchards and workplaces fitted in between or behind the houses. There are also some amazing trees if you look up behind St John’s Street for example – behind the new UK Harvest headquarters on Market Road there is a bit of the city walls I have never seen before and some huge trees! Please do go and explore this for yourself.
The Car Free Day idea would allow some of these spaces to be used more creatively. You can imagine a pop up park, or children’s play area or mini farm with animals fitting into these under-used spaces.
There are so many fun things that these spaces could unlock – street art on the ground with chalks, or music spaces for people to relax and listen and dance.
It is only with your support and engagement that we can get this to happen.
We would like this to be a community day to recapture the city streets for people to encourage residents and visitors to wander and discover and explore these hidden corners. To take time and not to rush around in a car but to enjoy the cleaner air and quieter streets we would be making.
I have put in a Freedom of Information Request about asthma levels in the area. Although the reduction of disease is very much one of the driving forces behind this idea – there is so much more fun we could have in bringing together and celebrating our city on such a special day. It is the potential for positive change that a car free day brings with it that I want to be the key idea to take away with you from reading this post.