Nearly £3.3m of public money was spent on Chichester’s failed A27 improvement scheme, new figures have revealed.
Highways England, the government agency responsible for delivering major road schemes, spent a total of £3,283,897 before transport secretary Chris Grayling scrapped the project.
Figures obtained by The News’ sister paper Chichester Observer through a Freedom of Information request show that between 2013/14, a total of £141,690 was spent on the evaluation of previous regional studies, the appraisal of air quality status and a review of watercourses and ecology.
From 2014/15, Highways spent £1,056,635 on an economic assessment report, an appraisal summary table, initial surveys and the operation concept.
The figures show that £1,317,842 was then spent between 2015/16 on things including traffic modelling, economic assessments, options assessments, 3D model development and stakeholder engagements.
And from January 1 of this year to March 17, when the scheme was cancelled, £767,730 was spent on a broad range of things including the much-criticised public consultation, topographical surveys, an environmental study report, noise assessments, a traffic forecasting report, and a drainage and pavement assessment report.
Highways England said the money spent on the Chichester scheme is ‘comparable with other major projects of similar complexity to deliver best value for money for the taxpayer’.
But with the scheme now abandoned without any significant improvement to the important arterial route either carried out or planned, many will see it as a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
West Sussex County Council is now spearheading a community-led approach to building a better A27 and has pledged £100,000 of funding for public workshops, the first of which took place on March 22.
County council leader Louise Goldsmith has said the fact that nearly half of respondents to Highways’ public consultation voted for ‘no option’ instead of either of the five options presented, showed that the project was flawed and ‘rightly not acceptable to our community’.
Speaking last month Cllr Goldsmith said: ‘The process so far and the options which were put forward were not good enough.
‘Now it’s up to us to find the best solution for this wonderful city and convince the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision.’
A27 improvement schemes at Arundel and Worthing and Lewes are still scheduled to go ahead.