Chris Grayling quizzed on A27 upgrade plans in Chichester and Worthing
“We want to see the route improved,” said Chris Grayling when quizzed over plans to improve the A27 in Chichester and Worthing.
The Transport Secretary said he was working with local MPs to ‘make sure that a scheme can deliver what people hope for’.
Plans to improve the A27 in Chichester were scrapped in 2017.
In a letter cancelling the whole scheme, Mr Grayling blamed his decision on ‘the withdrawal of support by local councils for the shortlisted options and significant local campaigns’.
The news came just days before Highways England was due to announce its preferred route option.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that nearly £3.3million of public money was spent on the failed scheme.
Speaking to this newspaper today, Mr Grayling said: “We are continuing to work on upgrade plans for the A27. The issue around Chichester is there has been a huge resistance to the plans locally.
“What we would never want to do is to proceed with a scheme which had substantial local opposition, not just from residents affected by it, but seamlessly across the whole community.”
Mr Grayling said his message to the people of Chichester was to ‘go away and think through what works best and come up with a local consensus’.
“Then, we can put it back into the pipeline,” he said.
“It is very much a question of when the local community agrees on what it actually wants.”
He added: “We have got a community that is completely divided between the northern route and the southern route – if we can get consensus about what is going to work best for Chichester, then obviously we will want to try and put it back into the pipeline – but that consensus hasn’t happened.”
When the Chichester scheme was scrapped in 2017, it was confirmed that improvements to the A27 at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes, would still go ahead.
Mr Grayling said today that he had asked Highways England to ‘look again at what options might be there’.
“The situation in Worthing is that the local stakeholders and the local members of parliament weren’t happy with the initial proposals,” he said.
“I am working quite carefully with local MPs now, to make sure that a scheme does come forward, that can deliver what people hope for.”
Mr Grayling was at Gatwick Airport railway station, announcing a £150million upgrade project.