The stretch of road south of the city is notorious for regular congestion and lengthy traffic jams.
While there is a universal acknowledgement action is needed, consensus on a detailed scheme of improvements has been difficult to reach.
Just this week Transport for the South East (TfSE) launched a 12-week consultation on its draft Strategic Investment Plan, a culmination of five years work which sets out interventions with a total capital cost of £45 billion over 27 years.
The SIP highlights the aim of ‘targeted interventions to deliver high-quality east – west connections for freight, private and mass transit vehicles that de conflict local and longer-distance traffic, with the greatest benefit when supporting and supported by public transport improvements’.
Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling pulled the plug on funding for Chichester back in March 2017. The Build a Better A27 group was then formed seeking to create community consensus for a new scheme and secure funding.
But the group’s recommendation for a new mitigated northern route with a ‘reasonable alternative’ of significant and sensitive improvements to the current line of the road to the south of the city were both rejected by Highways England.
Residents and businesses were given fresh hope of improvements finally being delivered in the Chancellor’s 2020 budget. Funding was made available to develop a potential scheme and then bid for more money in the RIS3 budget for 2025-2030.
According to National Highways, formerly Highways England, A27 improvements at Chichester is one of 32 pipeline schemes being considered for possible inclusion in RIS3.
Its website says: “We are now revisiting and assessing potential options to improve the A27 Chichester bypass as it continues to suffer from high accident rates, daily congestion, and extensive queuing at most of the junctions along this 5km stretch of road. With traffic due to increase by 24 per cent by 2035 this situation will consistently worsen if there is no intervention.”
An update from March describes how a non-statutory public consultation is due to be held in early to present a shortlist of options.
Chichester District Council is reviewing its local plan and one of the arguments for lowering its housing targets is the lack of certainty around improvements to the A27 and delivering the extra capacity needed to accommodate extra residents.
In an email update earlier this month the council said: “Due to the significant road improvements required and the fact that insufficient funding is available to deliver this, we have explained that the plan is unlikely to meet the full housing targets set by Government.
"Instead, we are working closely with National Highways and West Sussex County Council to establish a revised development strategy based on improvements that can be delivered to the A27 during the plan period.”