Chichester A27 consultations could be re-run with northern bypass included

Opinion is split on whether a northern bypass is the best solution to long-standing traffic woes
Opinion is split on whether a northern bypass is the best solution to long-standing traffic woes
The High Street  Picture: Rachel Edge

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The hugely controversial consultation for an improved A27 at Chichester could be entirely re-run following the dramatic intervention of the leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith.

Any new consultation is likely to offer residents a wider choice of options including northern and southern routes which Highways England had discounted before asking residents for their view.

Draft maps for one of two northern bypass routes which were suddenly dropped ahead of the July public consultations. Crown copyright 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 013/16

Draft maps for one of two northern bypass routes which were suddenly dropped ahead of the July public consultations. Crown copyright 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 013/16

Public outrage at the limited choice has continued unabated and it is understood that Mrs Goldsmith - who has never favoured any specific route or solution - is determined to ensure a transparent and comprehensive approach even if that delays the final implementation.

The results of the original consultation have yet to be published and Highways England has received enormous criticism, not least from this newspaper, for its lack of openness throughout.

Sources have said that at a private meeting on December 8 with transport secretary Chris Grayling and local political leaders, Mr Grayling indicated that he would support a re-run if it was backed by the county council, the district council and the MP Andrew Tyrie.

This week, Mrs Goldsmith said: “It is absolutely imperative to all residents in the area that there is total confidence in the integrity of the consultation process. Regrettably the Highways England Chichester A27 process has been marred from the beginning.

“The whole consultation process has generated very strong feelings and emotions, the majority of residents are deeply sceptical about the whole process, communities are divided and people are feeling aggrieved.

“It could be that the consultation needs to be re-run and of course that could mean that the whole timescale could slip. But that may be what has to happen to ensure all residents have faith in the process.

“It is so important that we have the right solution based on all available information and I will do all I can to ensure this happens.”