Improvements to A27 are needed says Leader of Council

The Leader of Chichester District Council is urging residents and businesses to come together to support improvements to the A27, after Highways England indicated that the £250 million scheme could be put back on the table.

Highways England met with representatives from Chichester District Council this month to explain that the funding was still available, but that an online route would be their preferred option.

"Every five years, Highways England announces improvements to our road network. They have indicated that only the options that were consulted on will be considered and if none of these options are approved by our communities then it is unlikely that there will be any major investment in the A27 until at least 2030.  They have indicated that that even at this point it is unlikely that they will be able to consider a radically new scheme. They are giving our communities the chance to work with them on redeveloping an online option that will tackle some of the concerns that people have raised," says Cllr Tony Dignum, Leader of Chichester District Council.

"The state of our roads is causing misery to our residents, workers and businesses and this is only going to get worse. We have to look to the future and work with Highways England to reach a solution for the sake of our communities, visitors and local economy. Regardless of whether this goes ahead or not, changes to all six junctions on the A27 are required as part of the Local Plan - and these are very similar to the changes put forward by Highways England under option three as part of the consultation last year. The Local Plan scheme is funded through developer contributions, which go directly to Highways England. These changes have to be made to mitigate the impact of additional housing in our area - there just isn't a choice.

"In addition to this, further changes are likely to be required as part of the review of the Local Plan. We anticipate that the Government will expect us to take significantly more housing based on what has happened to our neighbouring authorities. As part of this we have to demonstrate how we would mitigate the impact on our roads - which would require even more changes. These would be carried out over an extensive period of time. It makes far more sense for the A27 to receive the investment it requires now so that this work is done properly and in one go, rather than in a potentially piecemeal fashion.

"I met informally with the rest of the council yesterday to update them on the latest position and explained that there is a very short timeframe for everyone to work together to reach a solution. I gave some suggestions of how Highways England could potentially adapt their preferred scheme to take account of the issues raised by our communities. This was merely to demonstrate that there could potentially be some solutions that could tackle some of the concerns raised by our communities. It was not a formally proposed plan. In principle, the councillors agreed that we should write to the Secretary of State to urge him to revisit the A27 scheme.

"We understand that people have concerns about the online options, but if we don't do something now, things will only continue to get worse. Everyone agrees that there is a problem. This is a chance for us all to join together to work with Highways England on a suitable solution that will meet their requirements and address community concerns. We now aim to investigate potential solutions over the summer months that may be suitable to both Highways England and our local communities. We hope to review these options with our councillors in early September, with the aim of presenting these findings to Highways England for consideration."

Highways England has indicated that the funding will only be available until September 2017, as the scheme will need to commence by March 2020. If a scheme is reinstated a formal consultation process will take place where the local community will be asked for their views. As part of this process, Chichester District Council will formally respond to Highways England, as a consultee on the preferred scheme. The final decision and responsibility for any future improvements lies solely with Highways England.

Date of Release: 25 July 2017
Reference: 3740