A shock revelation that district councillors had come up with their own option for the A27 upgrade at a private meeting rocked last night’s community workshop towards a collaborative solution.
The workshop had been collating feedback from community groups and businesses, with a policy of not mentioning or suggesting specific options.
But after attendees were informed there was a September deadline for coming up with a collective scheme to secure previously pulled funds of £250million, Chichester District Council leader Tony Dignum announced he had a variation on ‘Option 2’.
The original Option 2 plan from Highways England (pictured) included flyovers at several junctions on the A27 Chichester bypass and a link road round the Stockbridge area.
Announcing the plans, Cllr Dignum said that the funding deadline showed there was ‘no northern route on the table’ until 2025-2030 and there had to be a consensus on an online route.
He said: “I’ve had a meeting today with colleagues at Chichester council and by an overwhelming vote, we did vote to put back to Highways England a version of the various options that we saw before us because that is all that Highways England is prepared to look at.”
When challenged on whether that meeting was a full council, he responded that ‘every councillor was invited’ and he thought it was ‘a fair representation of opinion’.
His wife, cllr Pam Dignum, went on to clarify that the vote had been a ‘straw poll’ at an informal meeting.
Cllr Dignum said the plan would involve:
– Lowering the planned flyover at Fishbourne roundabout
– ‘Totally unacceptable’ flyovers at Whyke and Stockbridge to become a cross-roads or stay as a roundabout
– No objection to plans for Bognor Roundabout changes
– A new south to east flyover at Portfield roundabout ‘for around £10million’
– Shortening the controversial A286 Stockbridge Link Road plan to include only the Fishbourne section
After the meeting, Cllr Dignum provided the Observer with a copy of his notes, included in full below:
Notes of address to Community and Business workshop 24/7/17
The Choice before Us
Accept an online route or nothing till at least 2030
No Northern option is on the table at least till 2030
Highways England starting point is around Option 2
The Challenge: Finding an online route that would be acceptable to the 2 Councils and the community and Highways England by mid-September.
A possible shape to meet community objections:
Lowered flyovers at Fishbourne and Bognor Road (accepted as objective by HE)
No flyovers at Stockbridge and Whyke junctions, instead cross roads or roundabouts
Additional south to east flyover at Portfield to ease A27 flow and access from city onto roundabout (approved by HE)
South to east flyover at Whyke junction to assist Selsey traffic going east to Brighton etc (similar to that suggested for Portfield)
Keep only the A286 to Fishbourne section of Stockbridge Link Road, removing the other eastern sections, including the heavily opposed canal crossing stage.
If we reject the HE offer, congestion will only get worse with a likely government-imposed 50% increase in annual new housing numbers from 2019.