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Whitehouse Farm Development Endangers Three Popular Cycle Routes

Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way are all under imminently threatened from plans for a southern access route linked to the Whitehouse Farm housing development.

Saltern’s way is a delightful cycleway that leads from the Market Cross in Chichester all the way to West Wittering beach. It leads through miles of rural countryside and around the perimeter of Chichester harbour.

Cyclists using Saltern's Way
Cyclists using Saltern’s Way in April

ChEmRoute is the name of the project to upgrade the cycle way provision between the centres of Chichester and Emsworth. This also forms a vital section at middle of the National Cycle Network South Coast Route (No 2). The South Coast Route covers a distance of 361 miles from Dover to St Austell.

Cyclists using the Southern Coastal National Cycle Network Route No2
Cyclists using the Southern Coastal National Cycle Network Route No2

The Centurion Way is a much loved 5.5 mile (9km) path that runs between Chichester, Lavant and West Dean following the old dismantled Chichester to Midhurst railway line, which closed in 1991. There are plans to extend it all the way to Cocking in the heart of the South Downs.

Centurion Way as it passes beneath Brandy Hole lane
Centurion Way as it passes beneath Brandy Hole lane

The ChiCycle team has seen draft plans showing a new busy road  dissecting Saltern’s way and the ChEmRoute paths and the removal of the entire section of Centurion Way that runs adjacent with Bishop Luffa school. The 1600 home Whitehouse Farm development is destined to be the largest ever in Chichester’s history. The developers have pledged to open a new southern access road by occupation of the 225th home – and even earlier for construction traffic. The ground is already broken for construction of the new homes, it cannot be long before construction of the access road must begin. Unless high quality provision for cycling is provided for the existing cycleways they will become less appealing, less direct and significantly more dangerous with the heavy increase in traffic. Segregated cycle ways are needed between the green railway bridge and the town centre or existing local sustainable transport users will be forced towards motor-vehicle dependency. We need the local authorities to encourage the cities new residents to walk or cycle into town by making sound planning dissensions before construction begins on the new access road.

Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way converge
Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way converge exactly where the new road will be constructed!

Despite grave concerns for the future of the path, our group still see room for optimism. Many of us attended the recent 5th April County Council meeting and heard the motion on Climate Change being debated. Reducing local carbon dioxide emissions was stated as being of highest priority with particular attention being drawn to the importance of promoting and enabling walking and cycling.

Councillors Peter Catchpole (Holbrook speech) and Dr Kate O’Kelly (Midhurst speech) declared that all West Sussex housing developments must now include at their earliest stages adequate infrastructure to allow a future modal shift towards sustainable transport.

Jacquie Russell (East Grinstead South and Ashurst Wood speech) pledged West Sussex Counties ongoing commitment to their Walking and Cycling strategy.

Jamie Fitzjohn (Chichester South speech) overcame his issue with the term “humans have caused climate change” after speaking of the influence of subterranean rivers of molten iron. He concluded that humans do indeed have a climatic impact and compromised on the term to then support the motion.

There was also a substantial public demonstration of support for the motion calling for emergency climate action to be taken and a report from the Chicheter Post can be read here.

Climate action march outside county hall on April 5th 2019
Climate action march outside county hall on April 5th 2019

West Sussex county council’s concrete committent to reducing transport driven CO2 emissions gives the Friends of Centurion Way enormous hope for the future. The Whitehouse Farm Southern access road threatens to dissect three popular cycle routes: Saltern’s Way, the Chichester to Emsworth coastal route and Centurion Way. Our local planing priorities are rapidly changing to embrace sustainable transport. We now look forward to local residents participating in constructive consultation so we can find ideal solutions to these challenging planing issues.

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