LETTER: Consultation re-run a mistake
I have read your press release issued on Friday 30th December informing your readers that the Chichester District Council Cabinet will consider a motion at their next meeting on January 10, 2017, asking members to agree to back a new consultation which would contain Options 4 and 5, both new northern bypasses, which were dropped ahead of Highways England's ten-week consultations between July and September. (see http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/chichester-district-councillors-set- to-back- a27-consultation- re-run- 1-7753003)
In my view that would be a mistake for the following reasons:
1. Andrew Tyrie has established by correspondence with Chris Grayling, that leading up to the Highways England Consultation, they had considered 22 options for the improvement of the A27 Chichester bypass and that these included the two northern options.
2. In the same letter Mr Grayling states that the Road Improvement Strategy (RIS) specifies the upgrading of the four junctions on the existing Chichester bypass. He explains that the northern options were dropped because they were outside this scope.
3. From plans published in your paper some months ago, it is clear that traffic joining the proposed northern routes, either Option 4 or 5, from both east and west is from grade separated junctions. This means that the northern routes will serve through traffic only with no access, and therefore no benefit, to local Chichester traffic.
4. The cheaper northern option (5) cuts through the Whitehouse Farm Strategic Development Location which jeopardises the largest contribution of new housing within the Local Plan.
5. In the correspondence, Chris Grayling confirms that the cost estimates for all options include land cost but exclude disturbance compensation for loss of profits to businesses that are affected. Once the cost of disturbance and injurious affection to the Goodwood Estate caused by options 4 and 5 are added, the cost of those options will rise significantly, and will be yet further above the cost range in the RIS.
6. The same letter from Chris Grayling indicates that even if the northern route is built, the existing A27 Chichester bypass will need upgrading by 2025.
7. The northern route would require seven kilometres of new dual carriage way cutting through farmland along the edge of the South Downs north of Chichester destroying habitat and risking significant objection from the ‘green’ lobby from all corners of England, last seen at Twyford Down and the Newbury bypass.
Why would a re–run of the process reach a different conclusion from that already reached by Highways England, namely that the upgrade must deal with the existing southern bypass?
By allowing the selection of one of the five options to continue, a planning inquiry which will follow as the next stage, will allow a solution to the detail of the upgrade to the four junctions to emerge.
A number of modifications have already been advanced which it can consider.
By agreeing to the proposed motion the cabinet risks shutting down the existing dateline towards reaching a traffic solution in 2019.
This upgrade is so important to our district, to its existing population and to its planned growth to 2029.
To stall it now will result in continued frustration for working families who use our roads every day trying to get to work on time.
This is especially a problem for those living on the Manhood.