After years of suggestions, meetings, plans, money and arguments, going back as far as 2013, all options for an A27 bypass around Chichester have been shelved.
An 11 January letter from the Highways Agency to the Leader of Chichester District Council, Tony Dignum, runs through the last two options still on the table, for a southern or northern bypass, and rules out both of them.
“In light of the above it’s clear that both presented options, Mitigated Northern and Mitigated Southern, have considerable issues to delivery that cannot at this time be overcome,” the letter says.
“This, along with the considerable costs without increased benefits, mean the scheme would not represent value for money and therefore it is not possible to take a major improvement of the Chichester bypass forward at this time.”
Tony Dignum told C4S that with a contract agreed to build 650 houses around Chichester over the next 15 years, pressure would only grow on the infrastructure in the area but refusal of certain areas to take their share of new housing development meant extra pressure would be exerted on the infrastructure.
“They have realised the northern route would work but cost twice as much – and the southern route wouldn’t work but would cost about the same,” he said.
“So the only thing that will happen is increased housing under the Chichester local plan, and this will only produce more traffic.”
While in Worthing…
Leaders of the district council in Worthing told the Highways Agency in September to go back to the drawing board after the government agency’s plans were accused of not providing any significant improvement to congestion, journey times or air pollution levels.
“…the proposal, for upgrades at six junctions, does not even meet the scope of the government’s original plan for the entire A27 in West Sussex, which called for an option of full dualling of the road through Worthing,” the letter says.
Yet that original plan would in any case come under fire, as any observant driver through Worthing would deduce from the signs in front gardens calling for a bypass around the town, not a wider, faster road through it.
There has been no further move.
And at Arundel, new consultation announced
At Arundel, where a dual carriageway that was once intended to bypass the thousand-year-old market town stops abruptly to the east of the town, causing traffic jams every morning and evening, the Highways Agency says there will be another public consultation period, to begin ‘in spring’.
There are three options – known as Options 1, 3 and 5A, and in all three a new bypass would begin at the Crossbush junction to the east of the town.
Two of the options, 3 and 5A, take the route to the south of Arundel, whereas option 1 appears to go south of the train station before following the existing route through the town.
The Highways Agency had mooted Option 5A as its preferred option, but the decision has been met with protests from, among others, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, which said: “All of the options involve significant loss of ancient woodland, an irreplaceable habitat, and therefore cannot be said to carry out the consultation objective to ‘work in harmony with the environment to conserve natural resources and encourage biodiversity’”.
Option 5A was the most expensive of the three options, at an estimated £250 million, but according to the Highways Agency, new information has come to light which may improve this proposal.