Arundel bypass "must go ahead", says local MP
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has urged Highways England to take forward plans for an Arundel bypass which he says “must go ahead”.
In his formal response to the public consultation on the bypass, which closed on Monday (16 October), the MP, states his belief that “the case for a fully-dualled, offline A27 Arundel bypass is very strong and widely supported”.
After analysing the responses Highways England are expected to publish their Preferred Route Announcement at the start of next year. This will be followed by a statutory public consultation on the route in Summer 2018.
Mr Herbert says that he strongly supports an offline bypass and notes that he and both of his predecessors had consistently campaigned for it. The MP’s efforts led to the scheme being reprioritised by the Government which allocated £250 million funding for the bypass.
He continues: “While I accept that there is some opposition to a bypass, my judgement – based on the many meetings which I hold and the correspondence I receive – is that overall there is strong support in my constituency for an offline bypass. It is important to note that this support extends well beyond Arundel itself, reflecting the impact which delays on the A27 have on the wider community. It is also generally accepted, even by opponents of a bypass, that the existing road is inadequate.”
The MP goes on to make the case for the need for a fully-dualled offline bypass. He writes: “A substantial majority of the 25,000 traffic movements through Arundel every day is not local, and the A27 in the town is already operating at or over capacity, with significant congestion at peak times each day and an above average number of accidents. With a very large amount of additional housing planned in the Arun District and beyond this situation will only get worse.”
The MP argues that the bypass would benefit the National Park, since vehicles currently avoid the A27 at Arundel by rat-running through the historic town itself and the South Downs. “Villages such as Amberley, Storrington and Pulborough suffer from excessive traffic as a result – indeed, Storrington has some of the worst air quality in the South East. An offline bypass at Arundel would take traffic away not just from the town but from these villages and the South Downs National Park.
“I therefore reject the argument that the bypass would damage the National Park. The A27 already passes through the National Park at Arundel, and new sections would not cut through chalk downland. In fact, by drawing traffic away from the Park and downland villages, an offline bypass would create a net gain for the National Park and the local environment.”
Mr Herbert restates his strong opposition to Option 1 “which would bring a dual carriageway road through Arundel, would massively increase traffic through this historic town (by 62 per cent according to the consultation document), would not deliver the time savings or anything like the same relief to the downland villages, and would sever Arundel.”
The MP maintains his preference for the the original ‘pink-blue’ route, now Option 3, which he points out “… was agreed decades ago by the whole community, including local environmental groups and conservation bodies. The then Transport Secretary's decision on the preferred pink-blue route noted that it was supported by English Nature, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Arun branch of Friends of the Earth and the Sussex branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England.
“Both Option 3 and (to a lesser extent) 5A would pass through what has now been designated as ‘replanted ancient woodland’. I note that this is largely non-native, recently replanted conifer woodland, the loss of which could be mitigated by planting a much larger area of broadleaved woodland. While I am aware that a number of local authority and other respondents have preferred Option 5A to Option 3 primarily because it would mean a lesser loss of this woodland, I note that Option 5A passes much closer to the village of Binsted. While neither offline route would mean the demolition of any houses, it is regrettable that recently planted, non-native conifer trees appear to have more protection than communities.”
Mr Herbert urges that the “essential” Arundel bypass must not be delayed by any lack of progress on upgrading the other sections of A27. He concludes: “I believe that the case for a fully-dualled, offline A27 Arundel bypass is very strong and widely supported. This long overdue road improvement would benefit the local economy and environment alike, and it must go ahead.”
1. To read Nick Herbert’s submission to the Highways England consultation in full, see here.
2. To read Highways England’s consultation documents on the Arundel bypass, see http://roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a27-arundel-improvement/.