You say: A27 by-pass at Arundel

November 2, 2017

Do you have a story you want to tell about the National Park? A burning issue that you think needs to be raised publicly? We publish one story or comment about the National Park in our newsletter South Downs News each month and a response from the SDNPA.

This letter was published in our November 2017 edition.

M.S. from Arundel says:

I was shocked to learn that ‘a substantial majority’ of National Park Authority Members have voted to reject all three routes put forward by Highways England for public consultation. What on earth were they thinking? How grossly unfair on the people of Storrington and those who live along the B2139 from the roundabout on the A24 to the top of Bury Hill.

That road is absolute lethal at certain times of the day and with it being a B road it’s used by cyclists and farm vehicles which understandably cause delays and subsequent huge frustration to motorists who can’t resist trying to squeeze by thus endangering cyclists and drivers alike.

Margaret Paren, Chair of the SDNPA responds:

It is important to understand the SDNPA’s role in the consultation on the Arundel By-Pass consultation. In this process we are not acting as the Planning Authority – a role in which we have to find a balance between conflicting needs and priorities before reaching our decision – but as a statutory consultee. Our role here is confined to assessing the impact of the proposals on the Purposes for which the National Park was established:

  • Purpose 1: To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.
  • Purpose 2: To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public.

We are always conscious of our duty to the communities in the National Park and we appreciate that an Arundel by-pass could relieve the misery suffered by many. But until we have more information on the full extent of the proposals, both positive and negative, we would be failing in our statutory responsibility towards the National Park to do anything but object.

Other consultees, like the County and District Councils, have other responsibilities and will assess the proposals accordingly. Highways England will then select a preferred route taking into account all these and wider responses to the recent public consultation. A public inquiry will hear and balance all the evidence before the Secretary of State makes the final decision.

At this stage of the process the information provided by Highways England has been limited, though it does show that all three routes on the table would harm the National Park. Our own evidence supports this assessment.

We need more information on the detailed design, what mitigation measures might be adopted to minimize the adverse impact on the National Park, and how the loss of irreplaceable ancient woodland might be compensated. We also lack information on other issues, like a comprehensive assessment on the resultant traffic flows within the National Park, both positive and negative.

Routes that avoid the National Park and ancient woodland were excluded from the consultation, we understand on the grounds of cost and value for money. We are not promoting such routes – we have no information to assess them – but are concerned that their exclusion prevents making comparison against the routes in the public consultation.

In our view, all of this information will be needed by the Inspector if they are to properly apply the ‘major development test’ in national planning policy – set out below.

For all these reasons, based on the information available to us, we have objected to all three proposed routes. We will continue to work with Highways England and provide further comments as the detailed design for the preferred option and proposals for mitigation and compensation become available.

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