I understand that, quoting Chichester Deserves Better, “Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, has written to the CEO of Highways England suggesting that the A27 consultation should be re-run and that this should include the northern bypass.”
It is not clear whether this is on her own initiative, following a vocal minority who have written to your paper, or whether her letter has the support of the council.
I have written on this topic before, setting out arguments against a northern bypass to Chichester, and I am sorry that I have to write again now, and may have to write yet some more in the future. Following extensive analysis and the costing of a number of options, Highways England (HE) put forward a consultation exercise about proposals for improvement to the A27 southern alignment.
The northern routes had been considered by HE and, following objections and financial analysis, found them not to be viable. They were excluded from the consultation.
The people of Chichester and the Manhood peninsular have waited for many years for the chance to address, thoughtfully and carefully, the needs of the crossings of the A27 from the south. There are no such problems to the north of the city. Money was found, on the basis of ‘online upgrades’, and that was the foundation of the consultation. To return to another round of consultation risks this present funding being withdrawn and allocated elsewhere.
There is no certainty the A27 would get renewed financial support in 2017, and thus there may be many more years of gridlocked crossings. While both costs and benefits are likely to rise, there is no certainty the same level of net present value would result.
It is also very likely that people who commented on the initial proposals would do so again, with the same arguments as before, having the same strongly held views. Any travelling ‘circus’ of options would probably come to the same conclusions, and recommend Option 2. A re-run could therefore be a gross waste of public funds.
It is argued that the majority of respondents to the physical consultation rejected the junction improvements options. At present we only have the Chichester Observer’s analysis which showed a spread of preferences, but all of them involved junction improvements (with or without the new spur road). Indeed, even if a northern bypass was to be built, there would still be a need for funds to improve the crossings on the existing A27. Given the present strained governmental finances, this money would almost certainly not be forthcoming.
“We want action on the southern bypass, - when do we want it? Now!” Given the points made above, it would be an embarrassing U turn against its own analysis for HE to re-start the whole process again, demonstrating a waste of time and money. I believe we should allow HE to accept the results of the 2016 consultation, to proceed as swiftly as possible with Option 2, and bring relief to those who daily use the A27 junctions.
A D Butler
Marchwood Gate, Chichester