The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) will call for a judicial review to challenge the Arundel A27 route decision.
Following an emergency meeting today, the park authority voted to take the significant step of challenging the Highways England selection of a ‘Binsted route’ for an A27 bypass.
Campaigners gathered ahead of the meeting South Downs Centre in Midhurst to protest against the route.
Responding to the news, Highways England said it would defend any legal challenge on the route decision.
Earlier this month it was announced, following months of consultation, that Option 5A had been selected as the ‘preferred route’ for the A27 at Arundel.
Margaret Paren, chairman of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We are not commencing proceedings for a judicial review lightly but we believe that Highways England have not followed the correct procedure, which was to set out, to the same level of detail, all of the options inside and outside the National Park.
“We want to work with Highways England so that they can find a solution to the traffic issues at Arundel that also protects the National Park for future generations, including having discussions around mitigation and compensation measures.”
Reacting to the route announcement earlier this month, Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said: “I’m delighted that the bypass is now in sight, in just two years’ time according to the current timetable.
“I would have preferred Option 3 because that would have had less of an impact on Binsted and Walberton, but there was this issue of the woodland, which was an obstacle.
“I think the overwhelming majority of my constituents, in my judgement, are in favour of a bypass and they want a full offline bypass.”
Bearing banners saying ‘A27: better not bigger’ and ‘save Binsted’s countryside’, protesters gathered at the South Downs Centre ahead of the meeting.
Brenda Pollack, South East Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The rally showed how much people care about our beautiful countryside.
“We need 21st century solutions to tackle traffic in this area. There should be a thorough assessment and funded plans for better public transport, walking and cycling facilities.
“These changes are what will encourage a shift away from unnecessary car use.”
A Highways England spokesperson said: “We recognise the strength of feeling about the Arundel Bypass, and we fully recognise the special environments and cultural heritage around Arundel.
“The route we announced earlier this month has strong support and provides the best balance between improving journeys and limiting the impact on the environment and rural communities. It takes the A27, which currently runs straight through the national park, away to the south.
“A better A27 will not only draw traffic away from other, smaller roads through the national park, it will also reduce traffic in and around Arundel. We want to work with people to ensure we can maximise the benefits of the new road and limit its impacts.
“We stand by the consultation process and will defend any legal challenge.”