Agreed submissions for Government funding to improve the A27 at Chichester mean local authorities can ‘demonstrate a more consistent picture of what the community wants’, according to one council leader.
On Friday Chichester District Council agreed, by 22 votes to 17, to write to Highways England stating its preferred option is a mitigated northern route, subject to measures making it acceptable in environmental terms, while also requesting the full southern route be explored as a reasonable alternative.
Earlier in the day the council’s cabinet had supported a different approach where the authority would have backed improvements without stating a preference for either option.
CDC’s agreed approach mirrors the one taken by West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure Bob Lanzer, which he announced earlier that week.
The Build a Better A27 group employed consultants Systra to come up with conceptual ideas as it looks to secure Government funding for improvements.
Two options were identified: a mitigated northern route and a full southern route upgrading the existing A27 junctions.
A mitigated northern route would see a new ‘off-line’ dual carriageway route to the north of Chichester between a point west of the Fishbourne junction and a point east of the Portfield junction.
Meanwhile the full southern route would see improvements to six junctions on the existing A27 Chichester bypass, including underpasses at Fishbourne and Stockbridge, flyovers at Whyke and Bognor, and a flyover and junction remodelling at Portfield.
After Friday’s decision Tony Dignum, leader of CDC, described how everyone wants improvements carried out to the A27, which were ‘absolutely vital’ to the economic prosperity of both Chichester itself and the entire district.
He added: “Although our decision does not mean that the Government will definitely choose a Chichester scheme for the next investment window, we can now demonstrate to the Government a more consistent picture of what the community wants, which will hopefully stand us in a good position for getting a scheme included.
“I would like to thank all those involved in the community work over the last few months for persevering and working together so we can find a way forward. We will continue to work with BABA27, West Sussex County Council, our MP Gillian Keegan, and Highways England over the next few months.”
A letter from Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, explained how a response to the Systra report should be completed by late autumn, which would give a scheme for the A27 at Chichester the chance to be included in the next round of funding for road projects (RIS2).
He said: “Having an early supported and deliverable A27 scheme for Chichester increases the likelihood of its inclusion in RIS2 or as a potential scheme for RIS3.”