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A27 bypass: A new road to devastation?

This summer the people of Arundel will be given their first opportunity in 30 years to give their views on options for a new A27 bypass which could change the Sussex countryside forever.

Highways England has announced that consultation about a new bypass at Arundel will begin in the summer. Residents’ campaign group, Arundel SCATE, says there is growing local concern over the loss of landscape and wildlife that could result from some of the possible proposals. The group is now urging people to look at all the alternatives and speak out before it is too late.

A historical option, known as the ‘pink-blue’ route (see map) cuts across countryside to the south of the Arundel, carving through water meadows, over a popular riverside footpath and through ancient woodland and hedgerows at the foot of the South Downs. The route was rejected on environmental grounds by then Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling in 2003.

“Arundel people care about our countryside and want to see it protected,” says Arundel SCATE’s Kay Wagland. “We do not want to lose our landscape and wildlife to save a few minutes travelling, especially as savings will only be for the short term. A big bypass will not solve congestion in the long term.

“Most people do want to see transport improvements in this area. We think these should reflect up to date transport thinking and include smaller scale road improvements to the A27, combined with walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure, locally and in the wider area, for real long term benefits, better choices and cost

CPRE Sussex agrees and is urging people to back the ASCATE campaign:

“A new bypass which cuts through large tracts of the countryside at Arundel may not solve traffic problems,” says CPRE Sussex Director, Kia Trainor. “Research by CPRE nationally shows that new road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment. We want to see an option which protects the countryside and minimises damage whilst improving traffic flow and safety and that is part of a wider strategy to improve connectivity and smarter travel across the County.”

Highways England’s proposals are up for public consultation this summer. Earlier this year, Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling withdrew funding earmarked for a Chichester bypass due to lack of consensus from local people. ASCATE believes a solution for Arundel can be achieved more easily and effectively for far less than the cost of a bigger bypass through the countryside.

“The A27 does not have typical trunk road characteristics, either in infrastructure or traffic load,” says ASCATE member Richard Smith. “Highways England would like to see its expansion to full ‘expressway’ trunk road, but this will mean a major increase in traffic levels, especially HGVs, and more congestion and parking demand away from the new road, impacting on business and residential areas. A new big road is based on outdated practice. We need to look at the evidence for what works.”

Evidence shows that a major bypass would increase traffic and pollution in the town, as outlined in the Highways England Feasibility report of 2015. ASCATE feels that supporters of a big road have not been informed about the real impacts, and wants more information and transparency about all the options to inform debate.

To get involved and for further information – Arundel SCATE – alternative road improvement concept supported by a range of organisations – Binsted based Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee – South Coast Alliance for Transport and Environment, a network for local groups along the A27 corridor, supported by Campaign for Better Transport.

Date for your Diary: Sunday 18 June
Meet at 10.30am at Dalloway Rd.
ASCATE is holding a guided walk along the pink-blue route indicated above through the ancient woodland at Tortington Common.
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