Councillors opt for further community involvement on A27 improvement scheme
Following a major debate on the way forward, Chichester District councillors have voted over-whelmingly to allow more time to find a solution to the A27 that works for the whole community.
A special council meeting took place yesterday to consider a letter dated 6 September 2017 from Highways England to Gillian Keegan MP. The letter essentially outlines two possible approaches for taking forward a scheme to improve the A27 at Chichester:
The options discussed were:
• Road Investment Strategy 1 (2015 to 2020): this requires a route announcement before the end of September and which in all likelihood would be option 2 from the 2016 consultation, or a variation of it.
• Road Investment Strategy 2 (2020 to 2025): this allows more time for active community engagement around possible alternatives. The risk would be that other national schemes may take priority and the project is not included in RIS 2. If the project is included work is unlikely to begin before 2023.
Councillors opted overwhelmingly for Road Investment Strategy 2.
Councillor Tony Dignum says: “It is important that much-needed improvements are carried out to the A27, but it is absolutely vital that the scheme chosen is the right one, and is supported by the people who live and work in this area as well as the district and county councils.
“Although the funding would be available if we voted for RIS 1, the tight deadline for feedback would provide very little opportunity for meaningful local input. This is why we have voted for the second approach. This will give us more time to work with residents, county and Highways England to agree a route as part of the RIS 2.
“Work on the improvement scheme will not start until after 2020, but it’s better that we have the extra time to find a solution that has widespread support. Highways England has said that the extra time will be beneficial and that active community engagement generally delivers better results for users, the community and the environment.
“Although there is the risk that funding for any agreed scheme will not be available in the second Road Investment Strategy, we feel that the benefits of the second approach outweigh the risks. I am confident that with the community working together, we will find a way forward.”