Improvements to A259 between Bognor Regis and Littlehampton scrutinised

Major improvements planned to the A259 have been broadly welcomed by Arun district councillors.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:25 pm
The proposed improvements to the A259 between Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

West Sussex County Council is consulting on changes to ten different junctions between Bognor Regis and Littlehampton before it applies for government funding.

The proposals were discussed at Arun District Council’s planning policy committee meeting on Tuesday (July 20) where issues such as congestion, speed limits, school access and the safety of cyclists were raised.

Paul Eagle, principal transport planner at WSCC, said: “There is a fine balance here in this corridor between traffic volumes, safety, speed, access for cyclists and access for public transport.

“In the solutions we have come up with, that is the sort of balance we are trying to create here so that everybody has got some sort of benefit. There may be some losers, but overall cyclists, traffic from the side roads and safety aspects should all be vastly improved through these proposals.”

Committee chairman Richard Bower (Con, East Preston) said he was ‘concerned’ that the new roundabouts could increase journey times.

Initial traffic assessments suggest that junction upgrades could reduce journey times at busy periods by around a minute. But journey times could increase by up to one and a half minutes outside of busy periods ‘as drivers slow down to navigate proposed roundabouts’.

Mr Bower questioned whether the changes would keep traffic moving, adding: “I appreciate it’s a difficult balancing act but is the A259 not up to standard and should it be a dual carriageway?”

Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) said he ‘could not see how the proposals would make any difference at all’ to the current situation at the Church Lane roundabout which he says is a ‘major cause of traffic jams’ along the A259 ‘practically every morning’.

Mr Eagle replied that current modelling did not show large queues at the roundabout as a result of the proposed changes.

He also added that an ‘uncertainty log’ takes account of all current and future ‘hypothetical’ housing developments along the route and also allows for a Covid-19 scenario.

The pandemic had ‘restricted where data could be collected’ and further traffic modelling could take place in September and October.

Several councillors expressed their support for reducing the number of arms at the Wick roundabout from five to four due to its proximity to Morrisons.

Mr Bower called it a ‘disastrous roundabout’ and put it as his highest priority next to Comet Corner.

John Charles (Con, Barnham) also agreed that the fifth arm should be dispensed with and suggested that any new entrance to the supermarket should be well away from the junction. The committee heard that discussions with Morrisons about this are ongoing.

Meanwhile Isabel Thurston (Green, Barnham) said she was ‘disappointed’ that the speed limit would be set at 60mph east of Baird’s Business Park up to the Tesco (Bridge Road) roundabout. She asked: “If there’s any way of keeping it at 50 rather than 60 I think you will be going a lot further towards keeping it a safe road.”

The meeting heard how the county council is keen to maintain the existing cycling links and the authority would try and make the roundabouts as easy for cyclists to use as possible.

Martin Lury (LDem, Bersted) said: “As an active cyclist I am concerned and nervous of cyclists being on these roundabouts.

“If anyone has tried to cycle on the Bognor-Chichester roundabout, it is an absolute nightmare – it’s actually quite difficult for a car, let alone a cyclist.”

Henry Jones (LDem, Yapton) felt the roundabouts were an ‘excellent idea’ even if they did slow down some of the traffic flows given the accident records of both the Comet Corner and Oystercatcher junctions.

Biodiversity and planting surrounding the works was also raised by Ms Thurston and, according to Arun’s officers, there will be opportunities for ‘significant landscaping and improvements’.

Mr Coster also raised concerns about closing the southern arm of the Church Lane roundabout saying it could pose an access problem for the nearby primary school. He felt forcing school traffic down a narrower road could be a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Officers said they would listen to the public’s comments and take them into account when the final proposals are drawn up.

The consultation has now been extended until August 15. Visit: https://yourvoice.westsussex.gov.uk/a259

A report summarising these responses is expected in October and county council officers aim to submit an outline business case to the Department for Transport by October 2022.

A full business case is then expected to be submitted by October 2024 with construction programmed to start in 2025.