“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:
For further information, please contact Steve Ankers, Policy Officer, or Robert Cheesman, Chairman of the South Downs Society via tel: 01798 875073
Notes for editors:
- The South Downs Society is a registered charity set up to conserve and enhance the beauty and amenities of the South Downs for the benefit of the public. It was established in 1923 and successfully defeated proposals for unsuitable coastal development overlooking the famous Seven Sisters area. The Society organises, both for the public and its members, a varied programme of strolls and walks as well as events and talks, all aimed at increasing both the enjoyment and awareness of the South Downs.
- The South Downs National Park, created in 2010, stretches for 100 miles between Eastbourne in East Sussex and Winchester in Hampshire.