It’s time to choose an option and help build a better A27

Community groups gathered in June to pledge their committment to finding a joint solution for the A27
Community groups gathered in June to pledge their committment to finding a joint solution for the A27

There was never going to be one single, simple answer to improving the A27 around Chichester.

If it was that easy, the solution would already have been identified and work would be underway.

The options

The options

A new dual carriageway tearing through the northern national park would always face massive opposition from the unique village communities and the Goodwood estate.

Similarly, an entirely new southern route would never navigate its way through the development that already exists or sits on the drawing board.

As for schemes that constructed ambitious tunnels, quite apart from the cost it would never be possible to deliver.

Finally, improving the current route is a complex challenge if it is still to operate effectively as a key thoroughfare for residents on short journeys as well as for through-traffic which wants to pass Chichester with as few hurdles.

In all these circumstances, the best option of all was an aggregate of lots of clever measures which when combined would dramatically improve travel times.

For the past year, faced with strong opinions from both the south and north of the district as well as the city centre – which is tired of being treated as a rat run and bottleneck – the community initiative to find a solution has had its work cut out!

County council leader Louise Goldsmith made clear at the launch that nothing should be off the table.

She actively encouraged the most diverse and imaginative range of thinking. They took her at her word.

Every conceivable – and inconceivable – idea has been explored, resulting in a lengthy list of possibilities being presented to residents today through the Chichester Observer, the Bognor Regis Observer, and the Midhurst and Petworth Observer.

The challenge now for everyone who cares about the way forward is to work through the choices like a take-away menu or a pick and mix selection – evaluate each one, and tick the relevant box.

In this week’s Observer on pages 44 and 61 there is a Your Say form for you to fill and send back.

This form will then be carefully considered to identify a much shorter list which can then be costed and put forward for funding.

The Observer has played absolutely no part in drawing up this list. We neither support nor reject any option on it. This is truly the work of the community groups and stakeholders involved.

It’s our job to ensure fair play.

Of course, no-one will agree on everything. We’ve yet to come across any road scheme of this magnitude that wins unanimous approval. But this gives us the very best chance of finding as much consensus as possible.

The alternative – no substantive improvement to the A27 – is unthinkable.

The volume of new housebuilding being imposed by central government means that without major change, Chichester will simply grind to a halt in the years to come.

I hope every reader completes the form today and takes advantage of our online surveys on our websites in the coming week.

Together we can deliver on the original promise – and Build a Better A27.