Binsted’s Strawberry Fair fields in danger from new Arundel bypass route
Highways England puts forward bypass option through Binsted
The Strawberry Fair (Sunday 19th July, 2.00-4.30) is steaming ahead as usual. Run for 28 years by Rosemary and David Tristram, this country event has raised in all over £100,000, partly for the fabric of 12th-century Binsted church, partly for chosen charities.
Three days before the Fair, on 16 July, Bill Treves of Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee attended the first meeting of Highways England’s new ‘Stakeholder Reference Group’ about road plans for Arundel. Five options were shown.
The route through Binsted:
Only schematic maps were given, but it is clear that this route is one of the options below: either the Strawberry Fair Fields, businesses and houses in the immediate vicinity of the National Park, or the Park itself, suffer disastrous impacts.
Binsted is beautiful, isolated, peaceful, quiet, unique. Its woods are huge and I recently saw a Purple Emperor butterfly there. Its beauty is mysterious, including fields enclosed in woods; fields once Mediaeval-style parkland; a dark pond with a statue of the Madonna; veteran trees which have seen it all; and many stories about headless horsemen, ghosts, and the lives of the inhabitants.
A new bypass which destroyed Binsted would be a dreadful loss. According to Bill, this was known and vehemently expressed at all the workshop tables at the Stakeholder meeting on 16 July. Although a majority at the meeting were pro-bypass as such they did not want it to go through Binsted. That is good to know; but Binsted is not the only place that would be damaged by an offline bypass. Tortington, Lyminster and the Arundel watermeadows would also suffer.
The other four options at Arundel can be summarised as:
- junction improvements,
- modified Purple route,
- Red route,
- Pink/Blue route.
Purple and Red were suggested by the government in 1987. Pink/Blue was the compromise agreed in 1993 to save Binsted Woods. What is new is the route through the Strawberry Fair fields, and also the option of ‘only junction improvements’.
The spectre haunting the discussion is the Government’s desire for a South Coast Motorway or ‘expressway’. Once that was built, traffic would be sucked away from the M25 and added to by people commuting for further along the new ‘expressway’ until it filled up. There would be a huge increase in traffic, difficulties of local access to the road, and much more noise and pollution, with knock-on effects on the South Downs National Park.
Arguments about this policy, or about the environment, climate change, or the pointlessness of new roadbuilding are not being aired at the Highways England workshops; they are about how to deliver a scheme. However, it is good that because of the sensitivity of the area, more minor works than a full dual carriageway at 70mph are being allowed into the discussion. Lower speed limits of 40 or 50 (on a dual carriageway) are being suggested by the consultants at Worthing, and also as a possibility for Arundel if just junction improvements or a ‘short bypass’ solution was followed (such as the modified ‘Purple route’).
We will continue to campaign against a bypass through Binsted.
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