County council to debate ‘Chichester Deserves Better’ A27 petition

Chichester A27 bypass looking West from Stockbridge PPP-140628-082956006
Chichester A27 bypass looking West from Stockbridge PPP-140628-082956006

A petition with more than 4,000 signatures opposing an A27 northern bypass around Chichester will be discussed by county councillors tomorrow..

The revelation that two of the seven options Highways England was considering to upgrade the route involved a new bypass north of the city sparked a storm of protest back in January.

Since then plans have been scaled back and only options for upgrading four roundabouts on the existing stretch are expected to go out to public consultation later this year.

The petition, which has been signed by 4,367 people, will be discussed at a West Sussex County Council meeting on Friday (April 15).

According to the petitioners Chichester Deserves Better the issues relating to the A27 should be seen against a ‘background of a perceived lack of vision for the sustainable development of a historic town’.

They argue that there was a need to challenge the assumptions that have historically driven the engineering solutions and wanted to encourage continued community engagement in collaboration with the statutory bodies.

They added: “Looking ahead, the community of Chichester needs to play an active role in all stages of the design, development and construction planning of this project. The effectiveness of such an approach when founded in logic was proven when the Department of Transport/HE withdrew possible northern routes as an unsound option during the pre-consultation process.”

The petition reads: “We, the undersigned, call on Andrew Tyrie, MP for Chichester, along with Chichester district and West Sussex county councillors, to oppose plans for a northern bypass of the A27 around Chichester.

“The through traffic using the A27 represents a small proportion of the problem compared to local traffic, a problem that will not be solved by a bypass, whilst causing irreversible damage to the area.

“Instead we urge them to support a series of upgrades and improvements to the existing route which will benefit the city and the wider area to both the north and south.”

In a briefing note to councillors, Bernadette Marjoram, WSCC’s executive director for residents’ services, explained that there was a case for upgrading the A27 because it was the only strategic east-west route that serves short distance trips and longer journeys where there are few alternatives available.

But since the full detail of any consultation options, including technical information, was not yet available to WSCC she argued that taking a position now without all the evidence ‘could damage the credibility of the county council in its strategic role in this and similar decision-making processes in future’.

Last month Mr Tyrie challenged the amount of funds available for upgrading the existing A27 route, suggesting between £122m and £181m would only fund so-called ‘hamburger’ junctions.

The Chichester MP called for the option for flyovers to be reinstated.

To view the petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/chichester-deserves-better

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