A27 – will a national initiative solve a complex local problem?
The debate on road upgrade and new road building to speed the flow of traffic across southern England is intensifying as each local community along the route seeks to assess the implications for them.
It is unlikely that an agenda set at national level, and that is what we have when Highways England are involved, will sit happily at local level and this is very much the case when it comes to Chichester and our stretch of the A27.
The concern I have is that Highway England’s overall key objective is to move traffic quicker from east to west and west to east and they will play only lip service to the complexities of local transport needs. They have a finite budget to make a major infrastructure improvement and their brief in essence is to improve life for those driving past Chichester.
Although there is a period of consultation via their appointed agencies with local government, businesses and landowners, their criteria for selection will be made on cost.
So we who live in Chichester could end up with sacrificing the green belt in the north, no upgrades to the existing southern by pass and still have all the same problems.
In my mind therefore those who unreservedly support a northern route may be giving Highways England too easy a ride.
Whatever recommendation is put forward by their agent Mott MacDonald, it must be supported by detailed quantifiable evidence to show they really have understood the local needs and when implemented we have not been played for fools.
As wherever you stand on this issue one thing is undeniable. If a northern route is chosen it will fundamentally change the northern side of the city and if it proves a mistake there is no going back.