Highways England this week refused to rule out a northern A27 bypass for Chichester – despite it not being one of the options which are currently the subject of a public consultation.
Earlier this year, the highways authority dropped two controversial options which would have seen a major new road built between the north of Chichester and Lavant, and another option for a partial bypass to the south of the city.
Since then it has launched a contentious public consultation on five potential upgrades to the existing stretch.
However, the five options have sparked strong outcries for conflicting reasons across the Chichester district and in an Observer poll, the most popular choice is currently none of them.
Some who want ‘no option’ seem hopeful it could see a northern option reinstated, and this week the Observer specifically asked if that was a possibility.
We asked Highways England: “If the majority of people who comment on the A27 project vote for ‘no option’, what will happen?
“Is there any way that this, or anything else, could get any northern options back on the table, or is everything else apart from online upgrades completely off the table?”
In response, a Highways spokesman said: “All five options currently being consulted on are viable and each would bring a different mix of benefits.
“The consultation is people’s chance to have their say on all the proposals and it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on hypothetical outcomes.
“Once all the public’s responses have been taken fully into consideration a decision will be made.”
Highways also refused to confirm that the money allocated for the whole project, between £100-£250m, could only be spent on upgrades to the existing stretch, saying only that ‘all the options under consultation meet the objectives set out in the Government’s road investment strategy’.
The Observer pushed Highways, asking again if the northern option could be reintroduced, stressing that if it was still a possibility this was a significant development, but the spokesman said there was nothing further to add.
A full transcript of the Observer’s correspondance with Highways England is published in today’s Chichester Observer.
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