A group created to rally support for an A27 bypass at Arundel has switched its support to a controversial route.
OneArundel was set up to rally support for a bypass that would reunite the two halves of Arundel it believes are separated by the A27.
Highways England recently published three options for A27 improvement in Arundel, two of which would take the A27 away from the town entirely.
From its inception OneArundel had pledged support to ‘Option 3’ – more widely known as the ‘pink-blue’ route – which has historically been the preferred option of Arundel Town Council and many others.
But in a surprise move OneArundel has said it now backs ‘Option 5A’, the controversial ‘Binsted route’.
A spokesman for OneArundel said: “Having addressed the question of whether or not Arundel needs a bypass, which it surely does, 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 Option 5A is the best of the three routes put forward by Highways England.”
The group pointed out that Option 5A would be cheaper and more cost effective than Option 3.
It also believes that Option 5A is likely to draw less environmental complaints than Option 3.
The spokesman added: “The local ancient woodland is protected by national planning policy and, as such, any destruction can be expected to be resisted, especially by the South Downs National Park Authority.
“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 hectares of ancient woodland, as opposed to Option 5A with its take of just 6 hectares.”
But the ‘Binsted route’, which has been discussed in some form for many years, has drawn a lot of criticism.
When the three options for A27 improvement were revealed last month many Binsted residents were dismayed to find the route was among them.
Mike Tristram, a member of the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee (ANBC), said: “ABNC, which has 2000 supporters, is very concerned about Option 5A.
“Binsted is renowned for its views, tranquillity, and mysterious places.
“The route stabs at the heart of Binsted’s extraordinary diversity of wildlife and habitats, by destroying, harming or cutting off the best part of the woods.
“It also destroys the historic Binsted Park, and the archaeology of an ancient landscape.”
A consultation on the bypass runs until October 22.
What do you think? Let Highways England know by filling in their consultation form.