MP: "Unfeasible" northern Chichester bypass puts A27 upgrade at risk
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has warned that proponents of a northern Chichester bypass are putting “hard won” A27 improvements at risk by campaigning for an unfeasible route.
The MP spoke out strongly against what he described as damaging attempts to block a planned upgrade of Chichester’s existing southern bypass through demands that a new northern bypass is constructed instead.
Mr Herbert warned that “manoeuvring” at Chichester had already had the effect of delaying upgrades along the A27, and that if it continued it could delay the Chichester improvements by a decade and affect other schemes on the route in West Sussex.
Route options for the Arundel bypass are due to be published for consultation by Highways England this summer, later than originally planned.
Highways England now state that the start date for the Arundel bypass will be 2021, rather than 2020 as originally envisaged, although they still say the work will be completed by 2023.
The preferred route for Chichester was originally meant to be announced last year, with work starting next year (in 2018/19) and completion in 2020/2021. Now the start date has slipped to March 2020, and no completion date is given.
Mr Herbert said: “The timetable for the Arundel bypass has already slipped and I fear one of the reasons is the delay in the consultation on the Chichester upgrade.
“The Chichester improvements were always intended to be an upgrade of the southern route which is, after all, already a dual carriageway, and that was the agreed position.
“By contrast, the northern bypass would be unfeasible, involving a new road and costing more, which is why important local businesses and Highways England have not supported it.
“If the Chichester consultation is re-opened, as some are urging, it won’t actually result in the northern bypass, it’ll just mean any improvement at all dropping right down the waiting list, and it could have a knock-on effect on other schemes along the A27 in West Sussex.”
Mr Herbert added: “West Sussex MPs worked extremely hard to secure the A27 upgrades in the Government’s major roads improvement programme, together with the substantial funding needed. The desperately-needed Arundel bypass has been shelved before. Local people will not forgive the same thing happening again”.
1. Chichester scheme
Start date: March 2020
End date: TBC
2. Arundel bypass
Start date: March 2020
End date: 2022
3. Worthing & Lancing improvements
Start date: 2021
End date: 2023