The problem we face in Arun district is one of economic stagnation. The main reason for this is the poor infrastructure generally, a dysfunctional strategic road network and, in particular, the lack of an Arundel bypass at the heart of the district.
An A27 bypass at Arundel is crucial to the delivery of local, regional and national policies which seek the realisation of economic potential in the Sussex coastal sub-region and turning around areas of deprivation in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.
Against this background, the recent announcement of £250m funding for an Arundel bypass is very welcome news.
However, we have heard it all before and so, naturally, some are already expressing concern that this funding might be withdrawn by the next Government – which may have different priorities.
If the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership, West Sussex County Council and Arun District Council don’t press home the case for an Arundel bypass by visibly demonstrating how they will utilise this investment, then a future Government might feel justified in withdrawing the funding. We must be seen to use it – or run the risk of losing it!
So what steps can Coast to Capital, the county council and Arun now take to ‘lock in’ this funding, and before the next election?
Proposals for an enterprise zone in Arun are the right idea but in the wrong location. Do we want Arun’s proposed enterprise zone to be located on land in flood zone 3, some miles from the A27, as is currently proposed?
Or should it be located on brownfield land, in flood zone 1, astride the south coast railway line, and a stone’s throw from the proposed A27 Arundel bypass – at Ford airfield?
Circumstances in West Sussex have changed materially as a direct result of the recent announcement from central Government, and so, Coast to Capital, West Sussex and Arun should now respond quickly to ‘lock in’ that funding, by initiating a change in location for Arun’s proposed Enterprise Zone.
If we build our economic plans around an Arundel bypass, a future Government will find it much harder to withdraw the funding!
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