The bypass saga has crawled along for more than 30 years but the area is now ‘one huge step closer to having it delivered’, according to the Arun’s leader at a special meeting of the full council on Thursday evening (October 10).
The magenta route was the clear winner by 31 votes to five, with three abstentions. Of the others, only the crimson route got any support, receiving five votes.
James Walsh, Lib Dem leader of the council, said: “We’re one huge step closer to having it delivered in two or three years’ time which will benefit the residents of Arundel, benefit residents of the whole of the Arun district and improve the south coast trunk road for millions of motorists every year.”
The magenta route would see around 4.4 miles (7.3km) of new dual carriageway to the south of the existing A27, from the Crossbush junction to just west of Yapton Lane.
It would include a new bridge over Binsted Rife, with around 3.7miles (6.1km) of the existing A27 being detrunked – downgraded.
Not everyone shared Dr Walsh’s enthusiasm.
The Binsted Village social media page called the decision ‘the murder of a village’, adding that councillors had ‘backed the destruction of a community they are meant to represent’.
The council will now work with West Sussex County Council, Arundel Town Council, Walberton Parish Council, Lyminster and Crossbush Parish Council and the South Downs National Park Authority to prepare a local impact statement.
Highways England’s consultation into the plans ends on October 24.
Although a bypass has been backed by some as vital to reducing congestion and rat-running through South Downs villages, campaign groups have raised fears about the environmental impact of building a new road through the countryside.
After the vote, Dr Walsh thanked members for ‘a very rational, well-reasoned and good-natured’ debate.
He added: “I’m delighted. We’ve got a clear statement of view from Arun district elected representatives, which is splendid news and I think it really does bring forward the likely delivery of the Arundel bypass within the next two or three years.”
The crimson option had been largely supported by independent members who felt it would cause the least damage to communities and wildlife habitats.
Dr Walsh told them: “We will do our best in the design stage. That line is not absolutely fixed. There’s a design stage on the junctions, a design stage on the wildlife corridors.
“All of you can make representations at that stage to improve things around Walberton, Binsted, across the Arun valley to actually make sure not only that it’s going to work as a bypass, but it scenically and environmentally works as well.”
But others were less pleased with the outcome.
Isabel Thurston, leader of the Green group at Arun, had earlier intervened to get the officers’ recommendation to vote only on the magenta route changed, so that a chance was given to vote on all the routes or none.
She said afterwards: “It is depressing that at Arun it is ‘business as usual’ as if we are not about to declare a climate emergency in line with other councils. We really can’t carry on like this – roadbuilding is the approach of the last century.”
Faye Catterson (Green, Arundel and Walberton), added: “The council should look after all our residents as well as our environment; this route condemns the villages of Binsted and Walberton. There will be increased traffic on the local roads in the six villages area, and we will see congestion at the traffic lights at Fontwell.
“Really, they will just be moving the traffic jam along the road so we are destroying nationally important wildlife habitats on the edge of the national park, for absolutely no reason.”
West Sussex County Council’s environment, communities and fire select committee is set to discuss the authority’s response to the consultation on Monday October 21.