A new mitigated northern route is the ‘best long term solution’ for the A27 at Chichester, according to members of a campaign group.
Bob Lanzer, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, is set to write to Highways England requesting the improvement scheme is included in the next roads investment strategy, stating that the mitigated northern route is the authority’s preferred option but the full southern route should also be developed as a reasonable alternative.
The decision was announced on Tuesday.
In response Zoe-Elizabeth Neal, co-founder of Chichester A27- No Option is Still an Option, said: “The West Sussex County Council cabinet member decision is very positive as it clearly shows that the county council has taken note of the consultants Systra.
“I can only urge that Chichester District Council also accepts the consultant’s advice and comes to the same conclusion as WSCC, if we are jointly to present to the Department for Transport and Highways England with a unified response as necessary for the A27 at Chichester to stand any chance of being included in the next Route Investment Strategy (RIS2).”
Mike Dicker, a member of the same group, said the mitigated northern route had been identified through the work by Systra through the Build a Better A27 group as the ‘best long term solution’, with measures to reduce the environmental impact.
The current A27 would then become a more local feeder route encouraging other modes of transport, for example bus lanes and new cycle routes.
Adressing the problems with the full southern route, he said: “The thing that clinches it is the five years of building work that would blight our city.”
Mr Dicker said he understood the position taken by those opposed to a northern bypass but suggested the new route would benefit traffic to the north of the city as well as the south.
However Chichester Deserves Better has criticised the county council for selecting solutions that ‘polarise the community rather than bring it together’. Two options were identified by Systra: a mitigated northern route and a full southern route.
A mitigated northern route would see a new ‘off-line’ dual carriageway route to the north of Chichester between a point west of the Fishbourne junction and a point east of the Portfield junction.
Meanwhile the full southern route would see improvements to six junctions on the existing A27 Chichester bypass, including underpasses at Fishbourne and Stockbridge, flyovers at Whyke and Bognor, and a flyover and junction remodelling at Portfield.
On Tuesday Mr Lanzer said: “This decision has been made after a long process of listening to the views of the community, attending the Build a Better A27 group meetings and considering the full report produced by Systra as well as the comments of our select committee.
“It is important that we put in both a preferred and an alternative option to Highways England to maximise consensus with the community at this stage. A lot of work has gone into engaging the community and we want to build on this momentum.
“Key to our success in achieving these improvements to the A27 is local consensus and we are hopeful that our partners, including Chichester District Council, will be aligned with our decision.”
Chichester district councillors are being recommended to promote both options as ‘being desirable without indicating a preference for either option’ when they meet on Friday.