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A27 Chichester Bypass

Highways England is undertaking a public consultation on options for improving the A27 Chichester Bypass. The Society has submitted the following comments:

These are the views of the South Downs Society in response to the current open consultation on the above. The Society, the national park society for the South Downs National Park, has nearly 2,000 members and its focus is the conservation and enhancement of the special qualities for which the park was designated. Our comments will reflect this focus.

The Society fully recognises the need to address the issues of congestion, unpredictable journey times and accidents on this stretch of the A27 and regards it as essential that any options progressed must have full regard to any implications for current and future traffic levels elsewhere along the road, including Worthing/Lancing and east of Lewes. We very much regret that the current exercise is road-based only and has been divorced from any real consideration of rail and bus transport: we regard this shift from integrated thinking on transport policy to be an unacceptable weakness in the approach.

That said, the Society welcomes the fact that no bypass options passing north of the city and close to the national park have been included in the consultation. If such options were to be resurrected the Society would strongly object.

We believe that any preferred option should be able to demonstrate that it can reduce congestion and unpredictable journey times on the Chichester bypass and bring about a commensurate reduction in traffic displaced by that congestion onto roads within the national park. It is essential that origin and destination survey data, mobile phone data and the results of any traffic modelling are shared with the public in a timely and user-friendly fashion in order to facilitate informed discussion about the potential implications of any changes to the bypass.

It is not this Society’s belief that the aim should be to create a 70 mph expressway. It would be our strong expectation that such a road would induce yet more traffic, increasing its contribution to climate change, potentially encouraging traffic to cross the national park to access it, diverting custom and thus the prospect of investment from the parallel, competing railway, and adding to the obvious traffic problems on the A27 further east.

The Society has attended the exhibitions of the options and taken the opportunity to discuss them with the staff present.

There are clearly local environmental implications attached to each of the options: these will rightly be raised by those directly concerned. As this Society’s remit is the impact on the national park, and much of the impact will be felt on the opposite, southern side of the city, we will restrict ourselves to one or two comments:

  • We note that a positive value, an “economic benefit”, is attached in the scheme evaluation to any reduction in journey time. From discussion with the staff at the exhibition it appears that no consideration has been given to whether a reduced journey time is an unmixed blessing, an absolute benefit: if, for example, car commuting from the south into the city centre may be achieved more quickly, will this not encourage more car traffic and is the city centre geared to accommodating it?
  • Views into the national park are as important as those within, or outwards from, the park. We would oppose the eastern end of the proposed link road forming part of option 2 where it passes beyond the B2201 towards Hunston. It would damage the iconic view of the cathedral and South Downs from the Chichester Canal at Poyntz Bridge, a view made famous in a painting by Turner, as well as destroying the tranquillity of the canal.

 

The consultation runs until 22 September. Here is a link to the Highways England consultation website:

http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/a27-chichester-improvement/

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What next for the A27?

On Monday 7 March this Society issued the following press release:

Back On the Right Road

 The announcement by Highways England that they are no longer considering building a new A27 expressway north of Chichester has been welcomed by the official “Friends” group for the South Downs National Park, the South Downs Society.

“The setting of the national park and some splendid views from it would have been badly damaged by a new road running right along its boundary,” says the Society’s chairman, Robert Cheesman. “We know there are major traffic issues on the bypass and we understand the need for improvements but those changes can be made to the existing route, as Highways England and the government have now recognised.”

The Society, and a range of environmental, business and other organisations, have been engaged with Highways England and their transport consultants for over a year, considering congestion, road safety and other issues along the A27 at Arundel, Worthing/Lancing and east of Lewes and how to address them. Options for improving the Chichester bypass will be the new focus when public consultation takes place in the spring or summer.

Says Robert Cheesman, “The problems with the A27 are not just about delays for car drivers but also the impact of traffic on the national park and those visiting it. People should be able to enjoy the park and reach it on foot, bicycle or public transport as well as by car. As possible improvement schemes emerge, the South Downs Society will look at each option on the basis of the likely effects on the national park and how we can all enjoy it.”

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A27 Chichester Bypass: Road to Ruin?

The Society has issued the following press release in connection with proposals for a new expressway, northern bypass for Chichester:

Road to Ruin?

“The South Downs National Park would be severely damaged by a Chichester northern bypass” says the park’s official “friends” group, the South Downs Society.

Although formal public consultation has not yet begun on various options drawn up by Highways England, the government’s agency for trunk roads, it is already clear that two of the possible routes would pass to the north of Chichester, between the city and the national park.

“We fully recognise that there are major traffic issues on the bypass and understand the need for improvements,” says South Downs Society chairman, Robert Cheesman, “but those changes can be made to the existing route, not by constructing a major new expressway along the edge of the national park. We have a very special landscape here, designated of national importance, and planning policy insists that better options be found.”

The Society, and a range of environmental, business and other organisations, have been engaged with Highways England and their transport consultants for over a year, considering congestion, road safety and other issues along the A27 at Arundel, Worthing/Lancing and east of Lewes and how to address them, but the proposals for Chichester bypass have taken them by surprise.

Says Robert Cheesman, “The problems along the A27 are not hard to identify. It’s not just about delays for car drivers but also the impact of  traffic on the landscape of the national park and the quiet enjoyment of those visiting it. We want people to be able to enjoy the park’s special qualities and reach it on foot or by more environmentally sustainable forms of transport. When the various possible improvement schemes eventually emerge, the South Downs Society will look at each option on the basis of the likely effects on the national park and how we can all enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, Chichester bypass seems to have jumped to the front of the queue of A27 schemes and the Society will be lobbying vigorously against any options that involve building a new dual carriageway expressway right along the boundary of the national park. The Society hopes that as many individuals and organisations as possible will comment during the public consultation scheduled for the spring, but meanwhile is urging people to put their names to the following petition:

Click HERE to go to the petition