Firms set to be asked about views on A29

BUSINESSES are set to be asked their views about a road some claim is strangling the town’s economic life.

A survey about the A29 is likely to be carried out by Bognor Regis Chamber of Commerce among firms in the town.

The road is the town’s only direct link with the A27 but has suffered from a lack of investment. It is also cut in half by the Woodgate level crossing for more than 30 minutes every hour at peak times.

Executive committee member Jim Brooks said at the chamber’s annual meeting on Monday the important road was little more than a dirt track.

“It would be good to know what businesses feel about the impact of the A29. We seem to be swamped by people from the villages who don’t seem to want a new A29. I would like to hear from other people.

“Could we conduct a survey of some sort among businesses to see the impact of the road on the local area? Personally, I feel it is very important to Bognor,” he said.

The proposal for the survey will be formally debated at the chamber’s next executive committee meeting in March.

The future of the A29 is undecided. The road was downgraded from a strategic route by West Sussex County Council several years ago.

But Arun District Council wants to create a bridge over the railway line to replace the level crossing, as well as a bypass around Woodgate to cut journey times to the Bognor area. This would be funded by the developers of a large housing estate – a prospect fiercely opposed by the Villages Action Group.

Nick Stuart-Nicolson, the chamber’s president and chairman, said: “We can’t ignore the thoughts of the opponents but they are being a bit Nimbyish about it.

“I have some sympathy with them but the A29 certainly affects businesses in the town because that’s where the road points to.

“It affects every single business in the town and every single expression of interest in Oldlands Farm.

“Giving approval to a commercial development there is all very well but businesses will not come to Bognor if it is not accessible.”

Adam Cunard, the chamber’s vice-chairman, said: “The crossing stops every business getting into the town.”

Fellow member of the executive committee Anton Matthews said he recently saw an ambulance on a 999 call stuck at the level crossing for 20 minutes.“Somebody’s life was at risk then,” he said.