County councillors back A27 Arundel bypass
Highways England is consulting on three options, two of which include bypasses to the south of the town, to cut congestion and improve journey times.
West Sussex County Council’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee backed a draft response supporting option 5A, which would see a bypass going through Binsted when it met last Thursday (September 28).
A number of community and action groups spoke against 5A, arguing that a bypass would have a huge impact on the landscape, environment, and rural communities.
Mike Tristam, speaking for the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee (ABNC), which submitted a 2,200-signature strong petition opposing routes through Binsted village and its countryside, suggested the consultation evidence was flawed, faulty, and contained factual errors.
After the meeting he argued that the bypass would cause ‘appalling damage’ to Binsted Woods, Binsted Park, Tortington, and other communities in the national park.
Mr Tristam added: “West Sussex are riding roughshod over their local communities.”
Edmund Camerer Cuss, speaking for Walberton Parish Council, said 5A would a ‘traffic disaster’ for his parish as it would lead to far more vehicles using Yapton Lane, while Kay Wagland, from Arundel SCATE (South Coast Alliance on Transport and the Environment), argued that both bypass options would be ‘destructive’ to the countryside and provided poor value for money.
Meanwhile John Henderson, a retired librarian who runs the Tortington Local Community website, described how the other bypass route Option 3 would ‘sever our community from Arundel and devastate our landscape’, but suggested all the ‘negatives and terrible losses equally apply to [Option] 5A’.
But he also said that in its present form Option 1, which is a largely online option, ‘has very few things to recommend to it’.
However Derek Waller, from One Arundel, who spoke in support of the 5A option, argued it would have less impact than Option 3 on the ancient woodland, and was the ‘best performing’ for Arundel in terms of reducing traffic congestion.
While Option 1 was the cheapest and would have the smallest impact on the national park, he felt it would continue to separate the two halves of Arundel.
After the opening speeches, Bob Lanzer, cabinet member for infrastructure and highways, said his decision would be to support an ‘outcome that provides benefits for Arundel overall’ and he would take into account environmental factors when arriving at that decision.
The officers’ draft response backed 5A as the council’s preferred option because it represented the best fit with the authority’s strategic outcomes for the A27, but also called for a detailed and high quality package of environmental mitigation measures is also provided.
Option 5A would see a new dual carriageway built from the Crossbunch junction rejoining the A27 east of Yapton Lane; bridges over the railway, River Arun, Ford Road, and Binsted Lane; and overbridges for Tortington Lane and Binsted Lane.
James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “It’s time to put an end to procrastination and come up with a solution to solve this long-standing problem and complete the Arundel bypass.”
But Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Gossops Green) said: “I’m concerned that the council seems to be in danger of forgetting it’s a very worth area of the South Downs National Park.”
Daniel Purchese (LDem, Rustington) suggested there would never be a bypass proposal anywhere that was perfect, with 5A ‘regarded as the least worst option’.
But he did share some of the concerns with the environmental impact of the bypass.
Andrew Baldwin (Con, Horsham East) added: “This has been bubbling away for 20 to 30 years. It’s time the Government get on and make a decision.
“Whichever option we select there are going to be objections from local residents.”
The committee backed the draft response supporting Option 5A by six votes to one.
Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill North), chairman of the committee, said: “In a sense you can’t please everybody with this decision, because communities will be impacted by all three options.”
The consultation closes on October 16. To comment visit Highways England’s website.
A ‘Save Binsted’ demonstration against Option 5A has been organised by the ABNC on Sunday (October 8) starting at 1pm at Flint Barn off Binsted Lane.
For more information visit their website.