I READ with interest the recent electoral spin by central government that billions of pounds are to be spent on improving our strategic road network, including an upgrading of the A27 Chichester bypass.
Clearly there is the argument that in the long term more roads means more traffic and that some of this money would be better spent on improving and encouraging other more sustainable modes of transport and changing people’s attitude to travel rather than on demand-led highway improvements.
And, as a retired highways civil engineer I now support this view.
Notwithstanding this issue, I would point out that the extent of improvements on the bypass very much depends on a significant financial contribution from developers associated with the four major strategic development locations (SDLs).
This is currently being discussed at the Chichester local plan examination in public (EIP).
The SDL developers have promised millions of pounds towards several capacity-led junction improvements on the bypass and on some local road improvements.
But, these improvements will only mitigate the additional traffic impact resulting from these four major SDLs in 2029 (the end of the new local plan period).
They will not manage the total traffic demand that will be there in 2029 and severe traffic congestion and delay will continue.
It is likely that only major improvements that include two grade separated junctions at Fishbourne and Bognor Road roundabouts will come anywhere near to achieving this.
So, it will be interesting to see what the Highways Agency announcement will be next spring regarding the bypass proposals.
Will they admit that to achieve meaningful improvement to manage the traffic demand in 2029 they will be very much dependent on considerable contribution from developers?
And if so, does it not mean that this in turn results in significant pressure on the local plan inspector to recommend approval of these four major developments regardless of their justification.
One final thought. I keep hearing the developers and the district council spin maintaining that without the financial contributions from these developers the much-needed highways and transport improvements in Chichester will not happen. What rubbish!
It will be these major developments that will produce much of the additional traffic demand that requires these improvements.
At the time of writing this, at the direction of the inspector, even more houses are being recommended than is currently proposed in the local plan.
This will result in additional traffic and environmental impact.
Will this mean significantly more financial contributions from developers?