Highways England has denied claims a public consultation on options for an Arundel bypass is scheduled for April 2017.
Arun District Council cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower told the overview select committee last week that the agency had confirmed the date at a recent stakeholder meeting.
He said: “What we did hear was that there will be a consultation, timetabled for April 2017, which is inconvenient for Arun as by then we will have concluded the situation with our local plan and gone back to the inspector.
“They are aware that it does cause us difficulties because some of the proposals that will come through the local plan will, I believe, be dependent on the proper access to Arundel and the free-running traffic on the A27 bypass.”
The Gazette asked Highways England to confirm Mr Bower’s remarks but a Highways England spokesman said the scheme was ‘still in very early stages’ and there were ‘no dates for consultation yet’.
Mr Bower described the meeting as ‘disappointing’, with no concrete options on the table.
He said attendees were instead asked to indicate on a map where local rat runs were.
Arundel and Walberton councillor Norman Dingemans said he had urged Highways England to remove two potential options through Binsted – but the request was refused.
Meanwhile, the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee campaign group has likened the situation to radio programme The Archers.
Secretary Emma Tristram noted how the fictional village of Ambridge had been under threat from a bypass – plans which were later dropped.
She said: “It makes no sense to drive a route over the beautiful countryside of Binsted.
“They should drop the Binsted option now, too. Then real life people can celebrate, not just the Archers.”
Arundel and Walberton councillor Paul Dendle said the group did not speak for Arudel residents, who were not supportive of on-line improvements.