Be sure to have your say…
The Chichester Observer and Spirit FM have published images of all 7 of the proposed options for the A27 sparking renewed debate around the City.
Because of the controversial nature of some of the options, the debate is likely to be hijacked by those concerned about the impact to the environment, loss of green space and the impact on the National Park. But as a local firm of accountants representing many other local firms of varying sizes, we are acutely aware that business must be given a significant voice in the debate.
We are all agreed that to do nothing would effectively cast the City in aspic and would seriously impact the ability for local firms to compete on a national stage, it may even result in the loss of some major names from the local economy as they seek more connected locations, but that does not solve the question of which route is most beneficial.
One key aspect of the debate which is being missed is the fact that Chichester City Centre is just one part of the local economy and there are just as many companies located outside the city as in it. All of whom need to access Chichester and travel around the region. These rural businesses and the smaller centres on the Peninsula, in the Downs and to our flanks make up a significant chunk of the local economy and in many cases are more impacted by the A27 issues than those inside the envelope of the City, which is well served by public transport and alternatives means of travel. A northern route, does not aid capacity issues on the Peninsula but may ease access into the City. Changes to the existing route however, may make life ‘down south’ harder as restrictions are placed on east/west access at junctions.
Considering the other end of the spectrum, how damaging would a northern bypass be for one of our major employers and generators of tourist income, Goodwood? Would its many events become less attractive because of the presence of a dual carriageway in the back garden or would a northern route allow the estate to handle larger visitor numbers, thus increasing revenue to the area?
We do not have to look far to see how a new road can boost the economy and by providing room for new housing and commercial space. The Bersted relief road in Bognor has brought swatches of previously undevelopable land into consideration and permitted major investment and job creation – Rolls Royce being just one example. So maybe a northern route would allow room for expansion in a City where land is already at a premium.
Finding a means of feeding in to these debates can be difficult and may result in some choosing not to bother. But due to the importance of this as a long term issue to the area, our collective businesses and many of you specifically, it is worth having your say when the opportunity arises. Various groups have already formed, for and against, and we understand Chichester Chamber of Commerce is happy to act as a collective voice for smaller businesses in the area, so if you have an opinion and want it to be heard, maybe consider making contact now.
There is of course the chance that this consultation ends in a similar style to all those that have gone before, with nothing actually happening, but on this occasion there does appear to be some momentum and the early days of a majority government, in which your MP is serving, can be a good opportunity to get things done – only time will tell.