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No cost limit for A27 option

The Build a Better A27 community group was presented with a list of suggestions of the way forward for the main road last Thursday evening.


The group, which has been tasked with mapping out the way ahead, met last week to discuss the list and plan next steps and was informed that there would be no cost limit providing the benefits were strong enough.


As part of this work, highways consultant SYSTRA has been commissioned to look again at ways of improving the Chichester stretch of the road.


They have now produced a long list of suggestions based on feedback and work by the community and business groups which form part of the Build a Better A27 group.


David Carter, from SYSTRA, said at the meeting last week they were not saying there was a cost threshold.


He said: “The cost of the scheme may well be quite high but if it delivers a lot then we want to consider it.”


Members of the group argued, saying that at a previous meeting, MP Gillian Keegan had told them there would be no more money than what was offered.


Group facilitator, Ash Pal, responded: “This group asked for no options off the table. SYSTRA have been very clear that you can justify more investment if your benefit cost ratio is higher and Gillian acknowledged that.


“Gillian did not say there was an absolute number that we cannot go over under any circumstances.”


West Sussex County Council is now asking members of the public for their views to ascertain what the wider community think is the right thing for the city and the surrounding area.


Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “The A27 is absolutely crucial in keeping our county moving, keeping our economy buoyant and making the city a place where people want to live, work and visit.


“Any improvements to this route have to work for the city and the surrounding areas. We were so disappointed with the options presented by Highways England and the effect they had on the community.


“That’s why we, together with Chichester District Council and our MP, brought together those with an interest in the community to see if they could agree a solution that works for everyone.


“This is about listening to our community and giving Highways England the information they need to build the right road for us.”


The Build a Better A27 group was formed back in March, 2017, when Highways England announced it would not fund improvements for that part of the road because the community could not come to a consensus on the right solution for the road.


The long-list SYSTRA has come up with includes analysis of the routes previously put forward by Highways England, potential improvements to the current road and other routes.


At the meeting, Mr Pal said: “We are on time. We are doing what we said we would do and we are about half way through.


“These are high level ideas. We are taking a systematic step wise approach to this so that we get your input at every stage. We are not going to force choice. That’s what happened before and we know how that ended up.”


The public’s views will be fed into the Build a Better A27 group. They have been tasked with getting more views from the communities they represent. SYSTRA will then carry out some more detailed assessments of these proposals and will feed this back to the group in April before they produce their final report in May.


This will then go through West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council’s decision-making processes to form a recommendation for Highways England.


That recommendation will be submitted back to Highways England for their consideration and a final decision over the future of the road will be made by them. A decision is expected in late summer.


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Posted in Local Developments, News.