We are led to believe that a Worthing bypass utilising the route of the A280/A24/A283 (Northern Bypass) can not be considered because it violates the South Downs National Park (SDNP).
Indeed, it is Government policy that there shouldn’t be any new roads or road upgrades within national parks unless there are no other reasonable alternatives.
Interestingly, in the 1970/80s there was a similar conundrum concerning the bypassing of Okehampton in Devon to facilitate traffic flow along the A30.
The inspector concluded that a bypass through the Dartmoor National Park (DNP) was the best option.
During the process, the inspector indicated that no option should be set in stone and no ideas should be dismissed. The Okehampton bypass was built in 1986 when Sir Peter Bottomley was Minister for roads and traffic. So why hasn’t Highways England (HE) considered and costed a northern bypass?
Is it because the roads are under the jurisdiction of the West Sussex County Council (WSCC)? Is it because the inspector’s report for the proposed Worthing bypass in the mid 1990s dismissed the idea of a northern bypass because it went through an area of outstanding natural beauty (as did most of the other options)? This was an opportunity missed.
The A27 Worthing/ Lancing Improvement Scheme was withdrawn for two important reasons – it was expensive and the cost meant it could not be constructed for many years. There was also a lack of broad consensus on the appropriate route.
If the northern bypass had been seriously considered, consensus may have been found and the cost would have been much less than the alternatives. Was it a fear that its inclusion would extend the consultation process? A fear that funding could be withdrawn?
We do not know the real answer to this question.
The reasons given by HE at the Pavillion Theatre meeting were lacking in detail and conviction (especially, as they must have been aware of the desire for a bypass by those who would attend).
A representative of the SDNP has made it clear that their committee has not given formal consideration to a northern bypass.
Our MPs could ask the Secretary of State for Transport to transfer the control of the A280 and A283 to HE. The ‘bypassed section’ of the A27 could be transfered to the control of WSCC (which would give them control of the traffic lights at the Grove Lodge roundabout).
Once the Northern Bypass option was adopted by HE, the SDNP would then have a mandate to formally consider this option.
Chairman, Offington Park Residents’ Association
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