Brand new road near Barnham and Fontwell is given the green light
The first phase of the realignment of the A29 has been given the go-ahead by West Sussex County Council.
The application to build a 1.3km stretch of road linking Fontwell Avenue (A29), with Barnham Road (B2233), was approved by the planning and rights of way committee on Tuesday (June 29).
The aim of the realignment is to create enough road space to cope with expected traffic growth from thousands of new homes proposed for the area.
A report to the committee said the new road would take traffic away from congested areas, in particular at the Woodgate level crossing, improving journey times/connectivity between the coast and the A27.
But the meeting was told there could be an increase in traffic in some areas, though others – such as the Barnham Road, Nyton Road and Fontwell Avenue approach to the war memorial roundabout- should see improvements.
A lengthy discussion saw the committee ask a string of questions about lighting, bus stops, cycle paths, the impact on the environment and the loss of agricultural land on the 12 hectare site.
Ashvin Patel (Con, Bognor Regis West & Aldwick) raised an issue which has been on many minds – what happens if the second phase is not approved?
The county council will not decide Phase 2 of the scheme – for another road between the B2233 Barnham Road and the A29 south of Lidsey Bends.
That responsibility will fall to Arun District Council.
Mr Patel said: “God help us if Phase 2 is not approved – personally I feel Phase 1 and Phase 2 should have been considered together.”
The meeting was told it was ‘not completely known’ when Phase 2 would come forward – but that it was part of the county council’s transport plan and the district council’s Local Plan.
The implication being that it would be unlikely to be refused.
The committee approved the Phase 1 application by ten votes to three.
News of the approval wasn’t welcomed by everyone.
Vic Ient, vice-chair of the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE) said the decision was ‘extremely disappointing’.
Before the meeting, SCATE wrote to the planning committee asking for the scheme to be replaced with something that would better meet the council’s climate change commitments.
Mr Ient said the committee was ‘completely ignoring the issues of climate change’, adding: “By taking this action, they are simply going to encourage more vehicles on the road.
“This decision they’ve taken is just going to bring more congestion to the people of that area, put more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, worsen the climate situation and it’s not really going to provide the sustainable travel that we asked for.”
Arun district councillor Isabel Thurston (Green, Barnham) shared the disappointment.
She said: “There has not been adequate consultation with residents and their comments have been acknowledged but dismissed.
“All the way through the last five years those planning this road and housing site have ignored the knock-on effects on the wider area and this application will have a detrimental effect on local people and add to traffic chaos in Fontwell Avenue.
“It’s a true road to nowhere.”
The new road will have a 30mph speed limit and will be an average of 7.3m wide, with a 3m wide shared cycleway and foot-way running alongside.
It will have one uncontrolled pedestrian crossing and three roundabouts – one at either end and a central roundabout ‘to serve future development’.
The cost of the entire scheme has given cause for concern, having risen from an estimated £35.1m in December 2017 to more than £55m today.
To view the application, log on to www.westsussex.gov.uk/planning and search for WSCC/052/20.