Is the A29 ‘the best road to Bognor’?

I WRITE in reference to the letter by Carol Bartlett of Woodgate (Observer, April 19) concerning the question of a bridge to replace the level crossing at Woodgate.

I fully agree with the points concerning the total unsuitability of encouraging more traffic to use the very outdated, narrow, often flooded and tortuously twisting A29.

The leadership of Arun District Council still has a completely blinkered approach to solving the problem of access to Bognor Regis from the north.

It seems they only know one mantra: the A29 is the best road to Bognor.

The fact it is cut by the main Victoria railway line is used by the district council as the chief focus for their energies.

They have for many years been devising various schemes to bridge this crossing.

They all involve massive housing development around the Aldingbourne and Westergate area which would decimate the beautiful rural environment, to say nothing of causing traffic gridlock in the Five Villages area.

This is because the government says it has no money to improve infrastructure and so local councils have to rely on housing developers offering inducements such as bridges, provided they are allowed almost unfettered planning approval for very large housing estates containing houses unaffordable to most local people.

Mrs Bartlet correctly points out that the calls for such development generally come from councillors far away from the Woodgate/Aldingbourne area.

There is in fact a very obvious and straightforward solution but this calls for lateral rather than vertical thinking: this solution involves bridging the A259 over the railway at the Drayton crossing (near Shopwhyke).

This road is also due for dual-carriageway improvements right up to the Drayton roundabout.

The road would then cross a few open fields until it joined the A27 at the already existing high level interchange near to Tangmere.

This would also have the further knock-on effect of reducing the dreadful queues at certain times where the A259 joins the A27 at the Chichester bypass.

For this to happen it requires some joined-up thinking and some co-operation between Arun District Council and Chichester District Council.

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines a ‘duty to co-operate’ between neighbouring councils in order to help solve planning issues (and save money).

Surely this suggestion is the perfect example of a problem which is difficult to solve in isolation becoming much easier when the range of thinking is broadened to include the adjacent authority.

If Arun District Council wishes to encourage business to invest in this area then it must lobby for wholesale road improvements.

The failed idea of piecemeal road building relying on the whim of developers at the cost of housing development not always in the best place ends up with a confused and dis-jointed infrastructure.

Mike Turner

Chairman of Villages Action Group