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OneArundel - September News II | Blog

OneArundel - September News II


Having addressed the question of whether or not Arundel needs a Bypass (in August Newsletter IV), which it surely does, and reviewed Option 1 (in September Newsletter I), we have assessed which of Options 3 or 5A is best for Arundel.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both Options, but having previously been a strong supporter of the Government’s original pink/blue ‘preferred route’, OneArundel has changed its view.

We are now convinced that if an A27 Bypass is to be provided at Arundel, then Option 5A is the best of the three routes that have been put forward by Highways England in the Consultation Document and the associated supporting documents.

The purpose of this Newsletter is therefore to set out the reasons why we have come to this conclusion, highlighting the pros and cons of Options 3 and 5A. So, what are the facts?

  • Option 3 (the old pink/blue route) would be a new offline dual carriageway linking Crossbush junction with the existing A27 very close to Havenwood Park to the west of Arundel. It would go through the South Downs National Park and about 24 hectares of Ancient Woodland at Tortington Common.
  • Option 5A would be a new offline dual carriageway linking Crossbush junction with the existing A27 in the vicinity of the Yapton Lane junction to the west of Arundel. It would go through the South Downs National Park and farmland, as well as about 6 hectares of Ancient Woodland to the north of Binsted village.
  • Neither Option 3 nor Option 5A would involve the demolition of any dwellings
  • Option 5A is slightly longer than Option 3
  • Option 3 would cost £260m, whilst Option 5A would be slightly cheaper and cost £250m
  • Option 3 has a Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) of 2.0, whilst Option 5A has a better BCR of 2.6
  • In terms of value for money, Option 5A is better than Option 3
  • Option 3 would divert 23% of the traffic currently rat-running through the SDNP on the A29 and the A284 (a total of minus 3,300 vpd). However Option 5A would divert 36% of this traffic (a total of minus 4,300 vpd)
  • The modelling results demonstrate that, in terms of overall network summary statistics and from a traffic perspective, Option 5A is the best performing network for Arundel. It is better than either Option1 or Option 3
  • Both Option 3 and Option 5A impact adversely on the South Downs National Park, as well as the local Ancient Woodland. Both have significant though similar environmental constraints, and both need to be given special consideration under national planning policy
  • Option 3 is expected to compromise the ecological integrity of the Binsted Wood Local Wildlife Site (LWS)

OneArundel’s original opinion before the public consultation paperwork was published on 22 August by Highways England was that Option 3 (pink/blue) was the most attractive of the Options, but we now need to consider five significant changes which have occurred since 1993 when the pink/blue route was designated as the Government’s “Preferred Route. These changes are:

  • The designation of the South Downs National Park which includes Tortington Common to the south of the current A27
  • The redefinition of Ancient Woodland, which now includes the re-planted Tortington Common, as well as Binsted Wood
  • The designation of Binsted Wood, Tortington Common and Stewards Copse (close to Arundel) as the Binsted Wood Area of Special Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) – which is also called a Local Wildlife Site (LWS)
  • The publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which gives emphasis to the protection of National Parks and Ancient Woodland
  • The publication of the National Networks National Policy Statement (NNNPS) which governs nationally significant road and rail infrastructure projects, as is the case with this A27 Arundel Bypass proposal

Of these, the most important change is the designation of the SDNP and the need for Highways England to respect the SDNP and its special qualities in its decision making. The SDNP is a nationally designated landscape, and HE has a statutory duty to have regard to the purposes of the National Park. The SDNPA is therefore a key consultee with regard to the Arundel Bypass proposal. This means that the views and recommendations of the SDNPA cannot be put aside lightly by those who have to take the final decision concerning the route of the Bypass.

Thus a recent statement by the Director of Countryside Policy and Management at the SDNPA is very relevant, viz:

“All public bodies, including Highways England, must have regard to the purposes of National Parks as they go about their work. National planning guidance states that ‘major development’ (which would include building or widening trunk roads) in a National Park is unacceptable unless there is an overriding national interest and no alternatives are possible. All the routes proposed would go through parts of the National Park and we will be assessing their relative impacts upon it. The SDNPA has a clear position statement on the approach it will adopt to all proposals for upgrading sections of the A27 and this has guided all our work on this issue”.

The local Ancient Woodland, which now includes Tortington Common as well as Binsted Wood and Stewards Copse, and which is located within the SDNP, is protected by national planning policy and, as such, any destruction can be expected to be resisted by Defra, Natural England, and especially by the SDNPA. It is therefore likely that the strongest arguments against the proposed Arundel Bypass will be deployed in respect of Option 3, with its take of 26 ha of Ancient Woodland, as opposed to Option 5A with its take of just 6 ha.

So, whether we like it or not, the opinions and recommendations of the SDNPA are very important, and these are likely to be reinforced by the draft Policies in the emerging SDNP Local Plan (September 2017), viz:

  • Strategic Policy SD42: Development proposals for new infrastructure will only be permitted where it represents the least environmentally harmful option reasonably available 
  • Strategic Policy SD9.2.c: Development proposals that will result in any adverse effect on the integrity of any Local Site which cannot be either avoided or adequately mitigated will be refused, unless exceptional circumstances outweighing the adverse effects are clearly demonstrated
  • Strategic Policy SD9.2.d:  Development proposals which result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland, will be refused unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss

Additionally, the SDNPA has published an A27 Position Statement which governs the Authority’s approach to proposals for widening or building new roads through the National Park, the presumption being that any proposal must be in the national interest and must minimise the adverse impact on the SDNP.

As far as the NNNPS is concerned, there are two policies which impact directly on HE’s A27 Arundel Bypass proposals:

  • Para 5.32 requires the Secretary of State to not grant consent for any development that would result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats including ancient woodland
  • Paras 5.150-5.152 say that the Secretary of State should refuse development consent in National Parks except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that it is in the public interest

In conclusion, and on the basis that the need for a bypass at Arundel is essential in the national interest, we have assessed which of Options 3 or 5A is most likely to receive the least opposition, especially from the SDNPA.

Having previously been a strong supporter of the Government’s original pink/blue ‘preferred route’, OneArundel is now convinced that if an A27 Bypass is to be provided at Arundel, then Option 5A is the least worst, and therefore the best of the three routes that have been put forward by Highways England. 

OneArundel therefore commends Option 5A for your strong support.

Finally, for all those who live in Arundel, please don’t forget that on Monday 25 September at 7.00pm Arundel Town Council is organising a Parish Meeting in St Nicholas Church for residents to have their say and ask questions about the bypass proposals.

It is clear even now that the noisy minority of anti-bypass campaigners will seek to dominate the meeting. So please do what you can to keep that date free and attend the meeting, thereby ensuring that the Town Council is well aware of the majority view in support of the bypass. 

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