In last week’s edition of the Observer, there were several interesting articles about the A27. This is also a key consideration in the latest version of Chichester’s Local Plan about housing needs and the future growth of traffic.
Last week I went to see a presentation about the local plan, one of several held at various locations across the community.
In short, it shows where the large number of proposed new houses and facilities to support them, will be built.
Quoting from the detailed information about it available online:
“Infrastructure Delivery Plan:
“More homes will add to the pressure on existing infrastructure.
“New and improved infrastructure requirements are set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan published alongside the local plan review.
“It provides an assessment of the most important infrastructure required to support the amount of housing proposed together with information where possible on costs and funding.
“We need to ensure that the A27 trunk road, and local roads can cope with additional traffic created by new homes and jobs. Improvements will need to be made to key junctions at:
A27 Chichester Bypass
Manhood Peninsula (B2145/B2166 & B2145/B2201)
Chichester City Centre.”
What struck me immediately was this clear statement and obligation to help deal with more traffic at the A 27 junctions around Chichester.
There are detailed drawings in the plan, showing improvements to each of the major inter-sections south of the city.
But what puzzled me though, is why, if these changes have been carefully planned and need to be implemented soon, did WSCC and CDC leaders reject central government finance to improve the A27 junctions in 2016 and have continued to do so ever since?
The improvements to the roundabouts as proposed in the local plan, while no doubt helpful, are not a complete solution to the inevitable growth of traffic.
However, with the £65m costed for the junction alterations in the plan already budgeted for and liable at a local level, a much smaller amount would be needed from RIS2 central funding to make them much more successful.
What we local residents must realise is that this is going to happen anyway and to help avoid major disruption to traffic without the greatest benefits, the authorities must plan to do the job properly, once.
Highways England has also and now for the second time, stated categorically that there will not and cannot be a northern bypass and explained why.
Even if it was ever built, it would not solve the problems of congestion at the poorly designed and dangerous roundabouts with the A27, given that the vast majority of the existing and proposed new housing and related traffic is and always will be to and from the south side of Chichester.
I urge Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, and our MP Gillian Keegan, to seek from the meeting they plan to have with Chris Grayling, a realistic, smaller and probably attainable amount of central government funding.
This would help to improve these latest proposed plans for junction changes and not waste time pursuing an unaffordable and unattainable northern bypass.
That ignores their consultant engineers recommendation to improve the existing junctions without delay.
Mark Jeffries, East Ashling