Highways England has announced its preferred route for the A27 Arundel bypass.
After months of public consultation, it was announced at a press conference in Arundel this morning that a tweaked version of Option 5a was the route they had chosen.
A Highways England spokesman said the route had been altered to lessen the impact on Binsted and to remove as little ancient woodland as possible after listening to residents' concerns.
The route starts with a new dual-carriageway from Crossbush junction, which will cross the River Arun via either an embankment or a viaduct, south of the existing A27. The route has been modified through Tortington so it is further south from Tortington Priory, a scheduled ancient monument protected by Historic England. To reduce the impact on ancient woodland, the route has been adjusted in the Binsted area before rejoining the existing A27 north of Walberton. Click here to watch a video simulation of the route.
Two other routes went to public consultation, which ran from August 22 to October 16: option 1, which went through Arundel, and option 3, which went slightly further north of option 5a through the national park and Binsted Woods.
Just over 2,800 people responded to the consultation questionnaire, and more than 7,000 replied by letter or email. The results were that 48 per cent of people supported option 5a, 27 per cent backed option 1 and 23 per cent backed option 3. Out of the respondents, 79 per cent agreed that the road needed to be improved.
MP Nick Herbert welcomed the news. He said: "I'm delighted that the bypass is now in sight, in just two years time according to the current timetable.
"I would have preferred option 3, because that would have had less of an impact on Binsted and Walberton, but there was this issue of the woodland, which was an obstacle.
"The 'online solution', option 1, going through Arundel, was never going to be a goer in my view as there would be a roundabout in the middle so there would still have been traffic problems.
"I think the overwhelming majority of my constituents, in my judgement, are in favour of a bypass and they want a full offline bypass."
Suzanne Clark, chairman of Walberton Parish Council which covers Binsted and Fontwell, said she was 'absolutely disgusted and appalled, but not surprised'.
She said: "We are all in favour of a bypass, but the whole parish would have preferred option three, which did less damage to our inhabitants and traffic.
"But as Nick Herbert seems to think, trees are more important than people."
Another public consultation will be held on the amendments to the route, with work expected to start in late 2020 and the road to open in 2023.
Highways England have organised a public drop-in session for residents at Arundel Town Hall on Tuesday, May 15 from 4pm to 7.30pm where they can speak to representatives from the public body.
This comes as campaigners have announced they will be legally challenging Highways England's decision. Click here to read more, and for the full reaction to the news.