People ‘very weary’ over Arundel A27 improvement process

The Crossbush junction along the A27. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
The Crossbush junction along the A27. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Plans for another public consultation about the A27 Arundel bypass have been described as ‘disappointing to say the least’ by the leader of West Sussex County Council.

Louise Goldsmith said some people were getting ‘very weary’ with the ongoing improvement process, which was first proposed in the 1970s, and pleaded: “We need some action, please.”

Mrs Goldsmith also told fellow councillors that she would call on Chichester MP Gillian Keegan to stress to Westminster and Highways England the need for a ‘long-term and comprehensive solution’ at Chichester as well.

At a full council meeting on Friday (October 19) she said: “It is a little bit disappointing to say the least that we’re going through yet another consultation, but we’ve been assured by Highways England of the commitment to the scheme.”

During last year’s consultation, 48 per cent of people who took part voted for option 5a, which would take the bypass through ancient woodland at Binsted Woods, Binsted Park and the South Downs National Park.

A tweaked version of 5a was then announced as Highways England’s preferred route in May.

But the organisation then announced this month that another consultation would be held in the spring as ‘important new evidence’ had become available.

The Arundel Neighbourhood Bypass Committee, which opposes the bypass plans, said the announcement did ‘not go far enough’ and called for other less damaging environmental options to be included.

But both MP Nick Herbert and group OneArundel remained confident the bypass plans would still go ahead.

James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) said: “I hope that we will say loudly and clearly, in every forum possible, including through our Members of Parliament, that we will all continue to throw our weight behind the preferred route for 5a for the Arundel bypass and do not run the risk of the £270m set aside by central government for the construction of this bypass.”

Mrs Goldsmith said the council had spoken to all West Sussex MPs, adding: “Everybody is committed to doing their utmost to get this scheme delivered.”

But Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate & Gossops Green) was not so convinced, that everyone was on the same page, referring to a legal challenge to the Arundel bypass scheme, which was recently given the green light by the High Court.

Mr Jones said: “When granting this permission, the QC decided it could be argued that ‘something went clearly and radically wrong with the consultation’.

“The news that Highways England are planning to re-run that consultation in the spring might lead some to conclude that they are therefore acknowledging the original consultation process was flawed.”

Two legal challenged have been launched, one by the South Downs National Park Authority and Dr Emma Tristram, author of Binsted and Beyond.