As the debate surrounding the A27 rages on, The Coastal West Sussex Partnership has collected the views of local businesspeople that use the road for work and announced its support for three of the six proposed solutions: Magenta, Amber and Grey.
The survey results paint a picture of the importance of the A27 in West Sussex to local business and the impact of its severe congestion.
Nine in ten (90 per cent) survey respondents said the A27 in West Sussex is important to their company. On average, businesses said almost 40 per cent of their staff use the A27 in West Sussex to travel to work. One in five of the businesses that depend on the road said that they use it over 100 times each week.
This dependency on the A27 contrasts sharply with the disruption local businesses reported experiencing. Nine in ten – 89 per cent – said that business travel is disrupted when the A27 is congested. Businesses also said that deliveries are severely disrupted, with over 60 per cent of deliveries in and out hampered during congestion.
Two fifths, 40 per cent, reported that journey times are a major problem for their company, and 37 per cent said that predictability and reliability of journey times are a major problem.
The lengths that locals are going to avoid the disruption are having an impact on the surrounding areas, too. Over a quarter of business owners and one fifth of respondents that use the A27 for business travel said they try to dodge traffic by using an alternative route every day.
Arundel is one of the second most used alternate routes; used by 56 per cent of senior management and 51 per cent of those living in West Sussex who take alternative routes every day.
The survey results also look to the future. On average, respondents estimated that their company’s turnover would increase by eight per cent with an improved A27 in West Sussex.
The Coastal West Sussex Partnership, which commissioned the survey to better understand the economic impact of the A27 in West Sussex, has announced its support for three of the proposed solutions to the current impasse.
The Magenta, Amber and Grey routes have been identified by the Partnership’s Executive Group as the preferred routes. Each provides a dualling and bypass solution that avoids dividing the town of Arundel, with two of the routes having a lessened impact on the South Downs National Park.
Of the three options, Magenta is favoured by the board. This is due to its minimal impact on the South Downs National Park – it would affect just under 0.74 acres – and saves approx. £50m compared to another preferred route that would bypass the park completely.
The Coastal West Sussex Partnership Executive has rejected supporting the Beige and Cyan routes due to the severe impact on Arundel and the volume of local traffic that would attempt to access the A27 from Ford Road. The Partnership does not support the Crimson option due to its “huge” impact on the South Downs National Park.
Henry Powell, Chairman of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership, commented: “Businesses, visitors and residents are being hit by long journey times and poor reliability, which means less business and employment opportunities for local people.
“It is clear from our findings that the A27 has a very real economic impact. That it is important to 90 per cent of local businesses, yet over a quarter of business owners are trying to avoid it every single day, shows the absurdity of the situation.
“Each option our board favours – Magenta, Amber and Grey – offers dualling and a bypass solution without forcing the town of Arundel to suffer from division. Magenta is our route of choice because it has minimal impact on the South Downs National Park and would cost about £50m less to deliver than the route that avoids the SDNP altogether.
“We need any infrastructure investment to deliver improved journey times, better reliability and resilience against incidents, removal of choke points to lessen air pollution and better access to our region.
“We also urge Highways England to consider a full junction for Ford Road due to the increasing levels of traffic from Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, and to create appropriate cycle routes to allow both leisure and commuter opportunities.
“We will continue to be a strong voice for local business and thank those that gave us their views.”