Last week I spoke in a Commons debate on road infrastructure and raised the need for the Arundel bypass.
Every day there are some 25,000 traffic movements through Arundel, most of them not local. The congestion and delays - as we all know - can be appalling. It costs the local economy, as businesses tell us.
But it also damages the environment as traffic queues and motorists find other routes, ‘rat-running’ through Arundel and up through the South Downs and its villages. Storrington has some of the worst air quality in the South of England.
So the Arundel bypass, which has been planned for more than three decades, is much needed and has always had strong local support. The Labour Government shelved the scheme, but in December 2014 I was delighted to win substantial investment for the bypass.
Highways England states that the scheme cost between £100 million and £250 million and that the start date will be before the end of March 2020. There will be a public consultation on the routes this year.
Of course, we also need the A27 through Worthing and Lancing to be upgraded, too. The budget for this is £50 to £100 million, with work planned to start in 2021 and ending in 2023. A public consultation about this will run between 19 July and 12 September. Information about the proposals will be available at www.highways.gov.uk/a27Worthing-and-Lancing from 19 July.
At Arundel, there has always been agreement that the best bypass option, traditionally known as the ‘pink-blue route’, would be a full ‘offline’ bypass to the south of the town. This is the route promoted by the new campaign One Arundel (www.onearundel.co.uk) and which I and local councillors support.
In the Commons I pointed out that, while this route goes through a very short section at the bottom tip of the National Park, so does the existing A27. It is not chalk downland but replanted woodland, and the environmental impact could be mitigated.
In fact I am sure there would be a net environmental gain as we reduced traffic through the South Downs National Park and the historic town of Arundel. I also think we should build a beautiful bridge across the River Arun.
Everyone will have their say. But a word of warning. Earlier this year Chichester lost £200 million of investment to upgrade its bypass after councillors unwisely tried to block the original plans and campaign for a fantasy northern route. Beware the anti-roads campaigners who would like to achieve the same outcome at Arundel.
You can read Nick’s speech on the Arundel bypass in the Roads Infrastructure Westminster Hall debate here