OBSERVER COMMENT: Consultation results show a resounding rejection for the Chichester A27 scheme
Highways England has finally published the results of its contentious consultation for improvements to the A27 around Chichester - and they reveal a resounding rejection by the public of all five options.
Since Christmas there has been growing anger amongst civil, community and business leaders that Highways England had refused to share the public feedback from last summer’s formal consultation on five possible upgrades to the A27.
However, after the secretary of state for transport’s shock decision to axe the scheme entirely last week, the outcomes have finally been released on Highways England’s website.
They clearly show that 47 per cent who responded wanted none of the possibilities by voting ‘No Option’.
It suggests that Highways England had failed to properly evaluate public opinion in advance of the consultation process, and justifies entirely why local political leaders like county council leader Louise Goldsmith had demanded a consultation rerun.
It may also help to explain why the secretary of state decided to abandon the scheme.
But complete abandonment is not the answer.
Hundreds of homes are currently being built around the A27 (including large developments at Shopwhyke and Tangmere) and hundreds more will be built around Chichester over the next decade.
That means thousands more cars on the roads and even worse congestion.
Providing the community with an option they could support was the only sensible and sustainable way forward.
Now that the Chichester scheme has been completely dropped, with transport secretary Chris Grayling citing a lack of support for any of the official options, it is time for the Chichester community itself to come together and find something better.
That may not always be easy, with different groups and organisations wanting different things in the past.
But what Mr Grayling has made abundantly clear is that collective community support is crucial if Chichester is ever to get the improvements to the A27 it so desperately needs.
While 47 per cent of the nearly 5,000 people who responded to the consultation voted for ‘No Option’, 31 per cent voted in favour of ‘Option 2’.
The next most popular was ‘Option 1A’, a long way back with just six per cent.
View the consultation results in full here.