Friday, 10 August 2018

A27: What’s going on?

Between Chichester and Polegate in East Sussex there are 4 major schemes scheduled to start in the RIS 1 period of 2015-20. All four have had public consultations, they are:
Scheme rejected by the community and subsequently cancelled by Highways England (HE). The community are now holding meetings in the hope their preferred scheme, when decided, will go forward into RIS 2.
Are waiting results of their consultation held in 2017.  In the meantime Leave has been sort by two parties for a Judicial Review due to believed errors in the consultation, environmental and value for money issues.
Are still waiting for results of their consultation held during summer 2017 despite being given a date of early 2018 by HE. Correspondence recently received from HE has given conflicting messages on scheme progress see (iii) below.
Following the public consultation in 2016 an announcement of the preferred route was made summer 2017
Highways England has now said they will carry out surveys and investigations to allow them design the scheme in more detail ahead of a further round of consultation in 2018. However in an effort to convince decision makers that bigger roads are not the answer, a copy of the New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast, reviewed in the post below, has been presented to Eastbourne MP, Stephen Lloyd.

So time moves on but progress seems to be bogged down with rumours that if schemes are not started before 2020 they will fail the RIS1 deadline. Clearly if it was just the A27 corridor schemes that faced delay it could be put down to pressure of work etc, but scheme delays are reported to be nationwide.
There appears to be several reasons for this, not in any particular order they are.
(i) Public concern that this or that proposed scheme will cause damage to the environment, make pollution worse and create more traffic anyway.
(ii) When Highways England forward matters to government for decisions they are delayed.
(iii) Confusion in HE departments.

An example of (iii) is the large amount of correspondence between a senior HE manager and a trusted correspondent we know.
From the details we have been given, home owners in a slip-road just east of the Manor roundabout in Lancing have been contacted by HE for permission to undertake surveying work in their gardens. This has raised concerns of Compulsory Purchase.
The HE manager in question confirmed permission was requested as they needed to do survey’s along both sides of the A27 Worthing-Lancing corridor for topographical, environmental and air/noise pollution reasons.
The manager went on to say that the department of Transport has not announced whether the scheme tabled last year, or a larger scheme will be planned for this upgrade.
When asked if the New Monks Farm (NMF) (IKEA etc) planning approval indecision would affect the scheme. He replied they had redeveloped the scheme to take in all the issues and objections made this time last year. Also they had taken into account the impacts of the NMF including IKEA (which they failed to do last year).
Surprising then he was unaware that, if NMF was approved, then the developer’s scheme for the Manor Roundabout would be implemented with a contribution of £640,000 from that developer!
When asked what would happen if the result of last years consultation was rejected by government following the local MP’s visit to SofS Chris Grayling. And secondly would an alternative scheme be scheduled for the RIS2 budget period with work to be completed before 2025.
He said no. It would be later than that because RIS 2 is already planned.

However while writing this piece our source has sent details of a letter just received from HE who now states, between reassuring words that compulsory purchase of property would not be necessary, that a decision on the scheme will be announced within the next 2 months.

So apart from the conflicting messages sent out by senior staff and HE HQ we think it’s clear to all those who have an in-depth knowledge of the long history of this section of the A27 and the long list of failed attempts to do anything, that a road based scheme on its own is not the answer.
Until government understand mobility is not achieved by car alone but by an integrated system of foot, bike, bus, train etc and yes the car, can south Sussex move forward.

PS. For those campaigning for a northern Worthing-Lancing bypass, surely with all the extra surveying work taking place that option looks even more unlikely.