MP Nick Herbert says those calling for a northern Chichester bypass are putting the ‘hard won’ A27 improvements elsewhere at risk by campaigning for an ‘unfeasible route’.
The MP for Arundel & South Downs said that if the Chichester consultation is re-run, as Chichester district councillors voted in favour of yesterday, it would only result in the scheme ‘dropping down the waiting list’ and could have a knock-on effect on planned work for Arundel and Worthing.
Read the CDC decion here
Mr Herbert said: “The timetable for the Arundel bypass has already slipped and I fear one of the reasons is the delay in the consultation on the Chichester upgrade.
“The Chichester improvements were always intended to be an upgrade of the southern route which is, after all, already a dual carriageway, and that was the agreed position.
“By contrast, the northern bypass would be unfeasible, involving a new road and costing more, which is why important local businesses and Highways England have not supported it.
“If the Chichester consultation is re-opened, as some are urging, it won’t actually result in the northern bypass, it’ll just mean any improvement at all dropping right down the waiting list, and it could have a knock-on effect on other schemes along the A27 in West Sussex.”
MR Herbert spoke out strongly against what he described as ‘damaging attempts to block a planned upgrade of Chichester’s existing southern bypass through demands that a new northern bypass is constructed instead’.
He said that ‘manoeuvring’ at Chichester had already had the effect of delaying upgrades along the A27, and that if it continued it could delay the Chichester improvements by a decade.
Two options for a Chichester northern bypass were dropped ten days ahead of a planned consultation last year.
Five options for upgrading the existing stretch around the city were taken forward to public consultation from July to September, costing between £47m and £280m.
A preferred route is due to be announced this Spring, but after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told a Conservative Christmas dinner that a new Chichester consultation could be possible, both county council leader Louise Goldsmith and now the district council have spoken out in favour of a re-run.
Route options for the Arundel bypass are due to be published for consultation by Highways England this summer, later than originally planned.
Highways England now state that the start date for the Arundel bypass will be 2021, rather than 2020 as originally envisaged, although they still say the work will be completed by 2023.
Mr Herbert added: “West Sussex MPs worked extremely hard to secure the A27 upgrades in the Government’s major roads improvement programme, together with the substantial funding needed.
“The desperately-needed Arundel bypass has been shelved before.
“Local people will not forgive the same thing happening again.”
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