Local communities await with some trepidation the promised ‘public consultation’ about the Arundel Bypass. MPs and councillors, and the previous government, have been vigorously pushing a bypass without a route having yet been decided on. The chancellor has said it will go ahead ‘despite local opposition’. Opposition has been building, with at least 3 out of 12 of the new Arundel Town Councillors being anti-bypass.
The only options on offer so far (recommended by the A27 Feasibility Study) are two long off-line bypasses though beautiful countryside:
- ‘Option A’, the old Pink/Blue route, rejected in 2003 by Alistair Darling for being too damaging, and
- an as yet unspecified Option B, either following an already-rejected even more damaging route (like Green route 1), or a new route killing Binsted village completely.
The A27 Feasibility Study’s first version of Option B (through Binsted and Walberton) was leaked in August 2014 and there was a campaign against it. The Feasibility Study’s reports, published in March 2015, included a passage about Option B which deliberately mixed together two new possible routes to prevent more campaigning.
We could try to use a FOI request or a claim under the Aarhus convention to find out what Option B they are really considering, or to confirm our suspicion that they have not decided yet which one to go for. But instead of getting ready for yet another time-wasting and bitter battle about the Bypass, it would be so much better to look at the situation from a little further away and ask some strategic questions.
- Overall road planning: Why have road schemes traditionally been divided between those on trunk roads paid for by the Government, and those seen as more minor, paid for by allowing housing development? Where is the strategic thinking which would look at both kinds of road together and co-ordinate work on new roads with protecting areas such as National Parks?
- Other road development: While the Arundel bypass has been planned but found to be impossible for decades because of the lovely countryside it would go through, developer-led new roads are being built at Bognor and will soon be built at Lyminster. These will form a sort of ‘big Arundel bypass’ using part of the A259. Can this situation be acknowledged and made good use of rather than ignored?
- Logical thinking: Saying 'we will have a new road' then looking for a route is putting the cart before the horse. Can transport improvement plans for roads in Sussex be based on strategic thinking which considers the needs and assets, including ‘natural capital’, of the local area, in a joined-up way?
- The push for ‘Expressways’: Given that it is national policy to site major road infrastructure developments away from National Parks, and that Expressway development of the A27 would have a major impact on the South Downs National Park; can we have a thorough review of the impact on the Park of designating and developing the A27 as an Expressway, and a thorough consideration of alternative approaches to improving transport in the area which would have a less damaging impact on the Park?
- Roads in National Parks: Could there be a new designation of roads that go through or along the edge of National Parks (including the A27), as ‘National Park Roads’, with special signage, lower speed limits, and more bicycle and foot crossings?
- Much more cycle infrastructure: Could the excellent new cycle path from ‘Barnham to Slindon Woods’, at present under construction, be expanded to a new cycle network that links not only leisure destinations such as Slindon Woods but also places of work and shopping such as Bognor, Chichester, Arundel, Littlehampton and Worthing?
- Traffic restraint: And finally – can planning be focussed on the need to decrease, rather than increase, road traffic? This means e.g. fewer out-of-town retail sheds, and trying to site housing development near railway stations. And fewer new roads.
Detail from the celebration glass made when 'Binsted and Beyond'
was published in 2002. The Latin 'Ne plus ultra' has a double meaning -
both 'the very best thing' (appropriate for Binsted and environs) and 'No further!'
(appropriate for the ABNC campaign against the bypass through Binsted).