Minutes of a meeting between Highways England and West Sussex County Council representatives about the A27 design process have been published.
Also present at the May 23 meeting in London were Chichester District Council representatives and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan.
According to the minutes, which have been circulated by the county council, the meeting began with the two councils outlining their decision making processes and timetables.
The county council’s officer recommendation, based on the Systria report, was to support the “northern mitigated route” as the preferred option” and the “full southern route” as a reasonable alternative.
At the time of the meeting, the district council’s report had not been finalised but officers said they are minded to recommend the above for approval.
Representatives of both councils said they are on track to make a road investment strategy (RIS 2) submission to Highways England in June.
Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England noted this and confirmed that once Highways England have the
final report from roads consultant Systra, they would undertake a technical assessment of the work.
This assessment, according to the minutes, would treat both the ‘northern mitigated option’ and the ‘southern option’ equally.
Mr O’Sullivan agreed to share the findings with the councils and Mrs Keegan, which should be available in the autumn.
He also outlined the high level timetable for the RIS2, and confirmed that A27 Chichester was on the long list of schemes.
He told the meeting that a big challenge for RIS 2 is that the level of Government funding is not known.
The minimum position will be a level of funding to meet existing Government commitments – e.g. RIS 1 schemes with expenditure in the RIS 2 period and other policy priorities, such as the Lower Thames Crossing.
Mr O’Sullivan said that Highways England won’t know the funding available for new schemes until after the public expenditure review in late 2019.
Highways England representatives outlined a potential timetable for RIS 2, though they said it was subject to change:
– The Department for Transport (DFT) would produce a draft RIS2 in late 2018 – this is not expected to contain potential schemes.
– Highways England would publish a draft business plan in April 2019. This would contain potential RIS 2 schemes and would be subject to public consultation.
– DFT would publish a RIS2 in late 2019 after the expenditure review.
– Highways England would publish a final business plan in December 2019 with RIS 2 schemes.
– Assuming A27 Chichester was in the RIS 2 programme, a Highways England-sponsored public consultation on scheme options could take place as early as summer 2020.
– Next steps would be a preferred route announcement and the DCO planning process. If this proceeded smoothly a scheme could be on site in 2023/24.