Chichester will have to wait until the end of the year for feedback on a possible A27 upgrade.
After months of discussion at the Build a Better A27 community workshops, West Sussex County Council submitted two ‘concepts’ to Highways England for the city’s A27, developed by consultants Systra.
One was a ‘full southern upgrade’ with improvements and alterations to all four roundabout junctions surrounding the city, the other was a ‘mitigated northern route’ proposing a new northern bypass.
The county council cabinet member decided in June to submit the mitigated northern route as its preferred option, with the full southern upgrade as a ‘reasonable alternative’.
In the weeks before the decision, the county council released minutes of a meeting with chief executive of Highways England Jim O’Sullivan about the possibility of a community-led solution being included in the government’s Road Investment Strategy for 2020 to 2025 (RIS2).
At the meeting, Mr O’Sullivan agreed that Highways England would carry out a technical assessment of both concepts and share the findings of the assessment with the county and district councils and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan. He said those findings should be available in the autumn.
The Observer contacted Mrs Keegan, Highways England and the county council asking about progress on the expected assessment.
Mrs Keegan’s office reported that the MP recently asked the same question and that after her enquiries, Mr O’Sullivan had said he was planning to arrange a meeting ‘before the end of the year’.
A spokesman for Highways England confirmed it is still considering the options for an A27 upgrade at Chichester, in general terms, to bid for inclusion in RIS2 as part of a business case.
It comes as the government set the budget for RIS2 at £25.3billion, £7.8billion more than RIS1.
It is to be the city’s second chance at securing funding for an A27 upgrade project after the Secretary of State dramatically cancelled Chichester’s allocation last year, citing a lack of community consensus and support from local councils.