Arundel bypass chosen route ‘only option’ for A27 upgrade

Much of the current debate about the statistics relating to Highways England’s recent consultation exercise and the selection of the grey option as the preferred route for the A27 bypass at Arundel misses the point, writes reader Derek Waller, of Surrey Wharf, Arundel.

The Crossbush junction as it could look if the grey option is built. Picture: Highways England

First, and essentially, the consultation exercise was just that. It was not an election in which the ‘first-past-the post’ would be declared the winner.

Second, it was not about the quantity of the responses, rather it was about their quality.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

And, third, it was conducted in order to give an indication of local views, especially information about possible local impacts which needed to be taken into consideration by Highways England (HE) when considering its decisions about the way forward.

Thus the answer as to why the grey option was selected, despite the fact that only nine per cent of the consultation responses supported that option, is very simple.

Of the six route options, grey is the only one that avoids the South Downs National Park.

As part of the latest consultation, the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) dug its heels in and refused to support any route through the park (of which there were five on offer). The word ‘compromise’ is not in its dictionary.

The views of the DEFRA-related organisations, aided and abetted by Parliament’s standing policy approach to the building of roads inside national parks, obviously won the day on behalf of the SDNPA, and inevitably grey was the only one that could then possibly be taken forward.

It is certainly not Arundel’s fault that the grey route has been selected, and in the end HE had little choice when searching for a solution to the national need to improve the A27 in the Arundel area.

Of the six options, the two online routes through Arundel never were ‘bypasses’, the route through Tortington Common was a non-starter and that just left the three long offline routes, of which only one avoided the SDNP.