All change, Chichester! New project will deliver homes, jobs and facilities, says council chief Tony Dignum

Law Courts

A project which aims to regenerate Chichester will help deliver new homes, jobs and improved facilities for residents, says council chief Tony Dignum.

The Southern Gateway scheme, which is set be debated by councillors on Monday 19 June, is designed to transform the south eastern area of the city, considered the key point of access and arrival.

Chichester District Councillors will decide whether to approve plans to carry out public consultation on the masterplan. If approved, the council will be encouraging residents and businesses to have their say from 29 June for six weeks.

The project aims to provide the opportunity to create a vibrant new quarter, linking the city centre with the canal basin, public transport hubs and pedestrian, cycle and leisure routes.

The area includes: the law courts and bus station; bus depot and Basin Road car park; Royal Mail sorting office and depot; land at the police station and former high school; land at Chichester Station; and Government offices.

Mr Dignum said: “This is a major project, and will take several years to complete, helping to bring homes, jobs and improved facilities for residents. The Southern Gateway project is about enhancing this important entrance point to the city and improving connectivity to a number of facilities and landmarks including the railway station, canal basin and the rest of the city centre.

“At the moment this area is dominated by traffic, and we know from the Chichester Vision that the number one thing that people want is to see less traffic in this area and for access to be improved for cyclists, walkers and those who use public transport.

“There are several sites which are being freed up for other uses. Now is the perfect opportunity to look at how we can make better use of these buildings and land so we really want to hear people’s views on the options.

“We understand that these proposals will potentially involve significant changes to the area and we will be working closely with all of those who live and work there. This is about getting everyone’s views and then deciding on the best option for the area.”

The law courts and bus station:
The proposals suggest that this area is used for purposes that reinforce the character of this part of Chichester. This could include a new hotel to support the visitor and tourism offer in the city, with possibly a café, bar and restaurant on the ground floor to support the evening and night time economy.

It also suggests that the Crown Court could be suitable as an arts or entertainment venue. There is potential for residential accommodation on the upper floors. This could provide market housing, affordable or starter homes or in the form of apartments, student accommodation or residential care provision.

The bus depot and Basin Road car park:
This combined site provides a significant opportunity for redevelopment. The focus could be to deliver residential accommodation with a mix of town houses and apartments for a mix of needs. There would be the potential for market and affordable housing including starter homes, student housing, or a residential care home.

Royal Mail sorting office and depot:
This site offers significant potential because it overlooks the canal basin to the south. This offers an opportunity to introduce a café / bar / restaurant facing onto the Canal Basin and residential accommodation above, with further residential or small scale office and business uses facing into Basin Road to the east. Alternatively, a further option could include high quality headquarters with the aim of attracting a business to relocate to Chichester.

Land at the police station and former high school:
This area could be used to provide a new residential quarter that provides a wide range of housing in terms of types and sizes.

Land at Chichester Station:
Options could include apartments or student accommodation, commercial floor space and additional car parking. Proposals to enhance pedestrian, cycle and public transport accessibility around the station have also been put forward.

Government offices:
The site could be suitable for retail and café / bar uses at ground floor level, with offices and / or residential accommodation above.

The Southern Gateway ties in with work already carried out on the Chichester Vision, which sets out how the public would like the city to evolve over the next 20 years. The top three things that people highlighted were to: reduce traffic in the centre of Chichester; support independent businesses; and create a better night time economy. The Southern Gateway masterplan will help towards realising these ambitions.

As part of the masterplan two transport options to reduce the dominance of the one-way gyratory have been developed by consultants. These are:

Option 1

Restrict vehicle access to the Stockbridge Road level crossing to buses and emergency vehicles and improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.
Realign Basin Road and create a new junction on Stockbridge Road.
Modify the Southgate Gyratory to reduce the width and number of lanes in order to improve pedestrian access.

Option 2

Restrict vehicle access to the Stockbridge Road level crossing to buses and emergency vehicles and improve access for cyclists and pedestrians.
Realign Basin Road and create a new junction on Stockbridge Road;
Remove the Southgate gyratory and replace it by extending Avenue de Chartres to connect with Basin Road.

The council is working with a number of organisations, including the Homes and Communities Agency, to secure funding and land.

About the Author

Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.