Adapt rejected Chichester A27 ideas and try again, county council leader says

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council

Rejected options for an A27 upgrade at Chichester could be adapted by a community group, according to county council leader Louise Goldsmith.

It said a A27 northern bypass would have conflicted with national policy and a full southern upgrade as proposed had ‘technical difficulties’.

READ the full text of Highways England’s letter here.
Mrs Goldsmith has said the cost of the options, each estimated at around £500m by Highways England, appeared to be a key factor and the council would ‘start to look at how the BABA27 community group can adapt the options’.

West Sussex County Council is also set to ask Highways England to justify its reasons for rejecting options for the A27, particularly with regards to cost and protected areas to the south of the city.

A county council spokesperson said it was not clear how Highways England reached its cost estimates for the conceptual north and southern routes, both of which were found to cost £100million or more than quoted by consultants Systra, or which modifications of Option 2 had been considered.

The spokeperson added: “The letter appears to contain an assertion that the mitigated northern route is highly unlikely to obtain approval through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process, rather than this decision being the result of a technical appraisal of the options, including an assessment of whether or not exceptional circumstances exist and whether this route would be in the public interest.

“It is not clear whether the impacts of the alternatives on the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have been taken into account in reaching their conclusion regarding the mitigated southern route.

“The council will request that Highways England substantiates this claim with reference to the impacts on Chichester Harbour AONB and the requirements of the National Policy Statement for National Networks.”

It comes as council leaders reiterated ‘extreme disppointment’ at the letter from Highways England rejecting an A27 upgrade at Chichester.

Leader of West Sussex County Council Louise Goldsmith said she was ‘especially’ disappointed that Highways England appeared to have reached its conclusions ‘without re-engaging with the BABA27 community group’.

She said: “We will be seeking clarity on a number of points raised in their response so residents can fully understand the decision.

“As things stand little detailed information has been provided.

“The key issue appears to be cost, so we will also start to look at how the BABA27 Community Group can adapt the options we submitted last year.

“I have asked for a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to renew our calls for improvements to the A27 at Chichester.”

MP for Chichester Gillian Keegan has said she hopes Highways England representatives will speak to residents directly about their reasons for not supporting options for a Chichester A27 upgrade at the next meeting of the Build a Better A27 group (BaBA27).

She said: “I am very disappointed that Highways England were unable to support either of the proposals put forward by the BaBA27 group and Systra.

“It is clear any scheme will need the approval of the councils and Highways England before we are able to secure funding, so I have requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to discuss the next steps for the Chichester A27 upgrade.

“Highways England, as the national road building authority, have offered to come and present their findings to the community and I hope they will attend and further explain their position at the next meeting.”

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