This week I will be meeting local council and business leaders to discuss progress on upgrading the A27. Highways England’s published timetable for the Arundel bypass is that there will be further consideration and publication of route options this year, a formal public consultation on route options in Spring next year, a preferred route announcement in Autumn next year, the works will start in Spring 2020, and the road will open in 2023/24.
While many of us have been waiting a long time for the Arundel bypass, it is important to realise that the previous Labour Government shelved the scheme, so it was not in the roads programme at all until the Conservatives announced it just over a year ago.
The A27 upgrades at Chichester, Arundel and Worthing are now in the programme and the important thing is that they are funded - the Chancellor has already allocated the money as part of the Government’s £15 billion national roads improvement to triple levels of investment by the end of the decade. £350 million has been earmarked for the Arundel and Worthing sections alone.
Now the detailed work and proper consultations have to be done, but these vital roads schemes have certainly not been delayed from when the Government announced them in December 2014.
The Worthing upgrades are scheduled to go ahead on the same timetable as Arundel, but the Chichester section had already received funding and will go ahead earlier, with the formal public consultation on route options in Spring this year, the preferred route announcement in Summer 2016, the start of works in 2018/2019 and the opening in 2020/2021.
The sudden emergence of a new option of a northern Chichester bypass is causing enormous concern, not least because it could damage Goodwood’s very important sporting events, and I hope that this option is dropped as soon as possible and that Highways England go back to their original plan to upgrade the existing southern bypass.
Having lobbied very hard for the Arundel bypass, I was proud to have secured this major Government investment for our local area. I will continue to work with others in the local community to ensure that this important scheme, which we need to relieve congestion on the A27 and to protect our Downland villages, will go ahead as soon as possible.