Major Sussex cycling route proposal is scrutinised - 'Urgent situation has emerged'

West Sussex County Council, which is preparing to carry out cycling and walking improvements between Shoreham and Brighton & Hove, has said ‘it is not necessary’ to publish the full consultation results to proceed with its ‘major project’.
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The council is ‘working to improve’ walking and cycling facilities across the county. By encouraging more walking and cycling, ‘particularly for shorter journeys’ such as those to schools, it helps to help to reduce congestion ‘on our already busy road network’.

"We’ll also help to improve air quality and create safer, more pleasant places in which to live, work and do business,” the council said.

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Plans were set out for works on the A259, from Shoreham to Brighton & Hove, from A259/East Street in the west to the county boundary in the east. Residents were asked to fill out a survey, which was open until February 27, this year.

Shoreham-By-Cycle members Leonie Harmsworth, Adam Bronkhorst, and Clive Andrews. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601Shoreham-By-Cycle members Leonie Harmsworth, Adam Bronkhorst, and Clive Andrews. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601
Shoreham-By-Cycle members Leonie Harmsworth, Adam Bronkhorst, and Clive Andrews. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601

However, the results have not yet been published – much to the frustration of local cycling group Shoreham-By-Cycle.

The community group’s chairman, Clive Andrews, said a ‘particularly challenging’, and ‘now urgent situation has emerged’ – one which he feels ‘raises huge questions’ for the county council.

Mr Andrews said: “We exist to seek better progress from our councils when it comes to creating better street environments where people feel they have the safe convenient choices for their routine journeys – including cycling.

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“This route [between Shoreham and Brighton & Hove] has been recognised by WSCC and Adur District Council as strategically important for years, but the construction of hundreds of new homes along the A259 raises the importance of adequate transport infrastructure to a critical and urgent level. We believe public appetite for cycle infrastructure here is reasonably strong.

Shoreham-By-Cycle chairman Clive Andrews said the council’s proposals ‘look very weak indeed for Adur’. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601Shoreham-By-Cycle chairman Clive Andrews said the council’s proposals ‘look very weak indeed for Adur’. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601
Shoreham-By-Cycle chairman Clive Andrews said the council’s proposals ‘look very weak indeed for Adur’. Photo by Steve Robards SR23111601

“Nine months after the consultation, its report has not been published. We began asking about its publication in August, via several contacts.

"From some of these contacts there has been no answer, and from others there has been a shared sense of frustration at the delay.”

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) said the A259 corridor scheme is a ‘medium term (2027-32) priority’ in the West Sussex Transport Plan.

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A spokesperson explained: “The scheme is a complex, major project that requires land and central government funding.

"It cannot be delivered quickly as land and funding needs to be secured so the county council’s technical work is being progressed to address these key challenges. It is not necessary to publish the consultation results to carry out this work.”

The county council said two stages of public consultation have now been carried out for the scheme. The results of the first stage in 2022 are available on the council’s website.

WSCC added: “A second stage was carried out in early 2023 alongside three other corridors in Adur district and the results will be published when the county council is able to set out its next steps for these schemes. We anticipate being able to set out next steps for these schemes later in the autumn.

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“We have recently consulted on a draft Active Travel Strategy and [13-year] Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). We are currently analysing feedback from stakeholders and will be making changes to the documents before they are finalised.”

Mr Andrews said the council’s proposals ‘look very weak indeed for Adur’.

“Of six priority projects identified by WSCC for improving cycling safety, none are in Adur,” he said.

"Most are found in the Chichester district. This is despite the huge expansion of Shoreham's population as the town undergoes extensive development.”

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A second consultation survey – for people to have a say on the future of walking, wheeling and cycling in West Sussex – expired on November 15.

Mr Andrews described the delay in the publication of the A259 consultation report as ‘lengthy and mysterious’, adding: “The virtual absence of WSCC plans for Adur, it is possible that, had the A259 report been published in a timely manner, it would have evidenced a strong-though-inconvenient case for WSCC to act emphatically on the matter of A259 cycle infrastructure to keep local residents safe along a currently hostile road.

“The situation is unfolding in a way that could be seen to serve the low ambitions of WSCC while depriving the expanding and congested town of Shoreham of vital safe transport infrastructure. I feel WSCC have questions to answer here.”

The cycling group received a direct response from the cabinet member for highways and transport, Joy Dennis.

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She stressed in her letter that the A259 is ‘already an important corridor’ for travel between the Adur district and Brighton & Hove and ‘will continue to be so in the future’.

The councillor explained the corridor scheme will ‘make use of land’ being secured from the adjacent developments that is ‘currently not all available’.

She added: “The scheme is also dependent on central government grant funding that will only be accessible when an opportunity arises. Therefore, the county council’s technical work is being progressed to address these key challenges and avoid abortive work that becomes out-of-date before suitable opportunities arise.

“It is already clear that the county council does not have the resources or funding to progress all four schemes, so prioritisation is taking place and we anticipate being able to set out next steps for these schemes later in the autumn.”