AN A27 action group has said Chichester has been saved from two bad options for the road.
Highways England confirmed yesterday it had rejected options put forward for the A27 by the Build a Better A27 group.
The Summersdale A27 Action Group was not happy with the options put forward for the A27 and now claims the city has had a lucky escape.
Gavin Barrett, from the group, said: “Chichester has, for the foreseeable future, been spared the destructive effects of two bad options for the A27.
“The authoritative research on urban bypasses by the Campaign for Rural England has demonstrated that bypasses tend to reduce economic activity.
“This at a time when the already fragile economy of Chichester is facing sustained structural set-backs.
“It is little wonder that the community made its feelings known at Highways England and the Department for Transport. I, for one, salute once again the professionalism shown by Highways England.
“Modest enhancements to the existing A27 as envisaged in the sensible District Plan will deliver enough benefit to Chichester.”
In a separate statement, the A27 Alliance yesterday questioned what had been achieved by county council expenditure of £100,000 on employing consultants SYSTRA when ‘neither of their deliverable’ options were considered workable or affordable by Highways England’.
The Alliance – ‘a group of parish councils and residents associations dedicated to getting the best Chichester bypass solution’ – said “it had warned rejecting RIS1 (a long-term vision for England’s motorways and major roads between 2015 to 2020) funding in the hope of a more expensive scheme was a huge gamble that was never likely to succeed”.
Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, all met with Highways England to discuss the two concept schemes developed and put forward by the Build a Better A27 group.
The group consists of Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, local residents and businesses.
“We are extremely disappointed with the response that we received from Highways England,” said Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum.
“This was a great opportunity to consider alternative options that would help resolve the traffic problems faced by residents, businesses and visitors.
“However, Highways England has said that the two concepts that our communities have developed – one which was for a northern route (the council’s preferred option) and one which was for a revised southern on-line route – are not affordable or workable.
“We are determined to continue to campaign for a better A27.
“We need to see Highways England’s formal response and understand the detail regarding this feedback and will be meeting with West Sussex County Council and Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, in the new year to discuss our next steps.”Without a Government-funded scheme, Highways England will need to progress the improvements to the A27 that are outlined within the current Local
Plan and these improvements are required solely to offset the traffic impacts of the new housing included in the plan.
“We are really grateful for the effort that our local communities have put into this process to date and we would like to thank them for this. What’s important is that we all continue to work together to fight for the best possible solutions for our local communities.”
Chichester district councillors followed West Sussex County Council in June this year, and indicated their preference for a northern route to be promoted in the Government’s next round of roads investment for the A27.
Members of the public are currently able to have their say on Chichester District Council’s local plan, which includes transport proposals for the solution to reduce the impact of development in the local plan review only.
These ideas were also put forward as back-up options in case Highways England did not put forward the A27 in Chichester for funding as part of Road Investment Strategy 2.
West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith wrote on her blog yesterday: “At a meeting with Highways England on December 13, they advised us that an evaluation had been concluded and that neither option presented by the BABA27 group were workable or affordable.
“We expect to receive a formal response from Highways England in the new year and as soon as we get it, we will publish their detailed feedback to the BABA27 group and to the wider community.
“I have asked Gillian Keegan to call an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, to discuss the issue further and this request was supported by Chichester District Council.
“Mr Grayling said he cancelled the scheme because the councils and community did not agree. Since then, working through BABA27, both councils have clearly set out their jointly agreed support for the mitigated Northern option.
“We all know and appreciate that Government has a very big issue at the moment but this matter is extremely important to everyone living and working in the area, as well as further afield. I hope we can have a meeting with Mr Grayling to reassure him of our joint agreed position.
“Am I clutching at straws? Some will say yes. Many will say Chichester is worth it and it’s because of that sentiment that I have made the request to the MP.”