New funding to develop potential schemes was made available by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March’s budget.
The announcement raised hopes that an acceptable long-term solution can be found to solve the congestion issues plaguing the A27.
A meeting with Highways England earlier this month included Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, and leader of Chichester District Council Eileen Lintill.
The Government agency explained that a total of £300m is available for preparatory work into 32 possible schemes nationwide, although only some of these will go forward to be included in the next road investment strategy 3 (RIS3) for 2025-30.
Ms Keegan called it a ‘first step on a long journey to improve the current congestion on the A27’. She said: “Now we have secured initial development funding I will be working with the local authorities to ensure this process is transparent and that all options are explained in detail by Highways England to the people of the Chichester district.
“My role in this process is to work with national and local agencies to secure funding in the RIS3 budget once plans have been developed and agreed for a future scheme.
“We all know improvements must be made and I will do everything I can to support our councils and communities.”
Mr Elkins described the meeting as a ‘very positive conversation’ with Highways England, adding: “Although it must be stressed there is no guarantee of funding for a major scheme, we look forward to re-engaging with the community, other councils, the MP and Highways England in due course to produce a compelling business case for a major A27 scheme.
“Our aim remains finding a long-term solution for the A27 at Chichester that reduces congestion, is viable and affordable and, crucially, has the support of the community.
Mrs Lintill added: “This is good news and a very positive step, but we will be one of many authorities competing for funding and so we will need to make a very good business case for a major A27 scheme. I must stress that nothing is guaranteed, and at the moment, it’s too early to say what any scheme will look like, but we will be writing to Highways England to ask for an open and transparent process to take place for all our residents, workers and businesses.
“In considering the options, we will also be asking Highways England to set out its reasons clearly and provide evidence for any deliverable and non-deliverable options.”
As part of the adopted Chichester local plan, a number of small scale improvements to the Chichester bypass to manage the impact of new development have been included, which will need to be completed by 2029.
The council leaders and MP have asked that any further technical work on developing a major scheme for the A27 must take the local plan scheme into account. They have also asked for any options not considered deliverable by Highways England to be fully explained to stakeholders.
Mrs Lintill added: “I look forward to working closely with our partners and Highways England to ensure that a major scheme to improve this key part of the A27 for our residents, workers and visitors, is included in the next funding strategy.”
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