A long-term solution to the A27 is urgently needed if the region is to fulfill its potential, it was warned today.
The call from the chairman of the body brought together to promote the Greater Brighton City Region economy comes as Highways England is part-way through an eight week consultation on making improvements to the heavily-congested stretch of road through Lancing and Worthing.
Commenting on the plans, Cllr Andy Smith welcomed the promise of transport infrastructure investment from government, particularly with planned growth along the wider A27 corridor in the pipeline.
However, he said he feared that the £69 million proposal did not go far enough in creating a lasting solution to the lack of capacity on this major east-west route and called for other options to be part of the consultation.
Cllr Smith, chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, said:
“The A27 is crucial to the wider Greater Brighton area, not only as an arterial route for freight, but as the main east-west transport corridor for the 700,000 people that live in the City Region.
“The right sort of investment in the few miles of highway through Worthing and Lancing could have a major impact on the Greater Brighton region as a whole, boosting growth and creating jobs.
“While we do welcome Highways England wanting to invest in the area, it does appear that the proposed solution is far from the lasting one that residents and businesses have been pushing for in the last 20 years.
“A failure to invest in our region’s infrastructure now can only set Greater Brighton back from reaching it’s full potential in the years to come.”
Government officials have spent more than 20 years trying to find a solution to the lack of road and junction capacity on the A27, which is the only east-west trunk road south of the M25.
The road through Lancing and Worthing is currently either single or narrow dual carriageway. This means it is heavily congested, particularly at Grove Lodge, Durrington Cemetery and Lyons Way.
In 2015, the Government included the six kilometre stretch in Worthing and Lancing in its five year Road Investment Strategy, which states that “England’s strategic road network requires upgrading and improving to ensure...can support the nation in the 21st century”.
A budget of between £50 million and £100 million was then allocated to the scheme as part of a package of investments along the A27 corridor from Arundel to east of Lewes.
Highways England released its plan for Worthing and Lancing last month. Rather than producing a series of options, the only recommendation provided was to make changes to six junctions along the route.
Within the documents, Highways England officials admitted that there would be no “significant improvements” brought about from the proposal, but added it was the only one which fell within the budget for the scheme.
If approved, construction work could start in 2020 with work complete by 2022.
Cllr Smith, who is also leader of Lewes District Council, said:
“The Greater Brighton Economic Board is determined to lobby on behalf of residents and businesses to draw in government money and ensure it is spent wisely to boost growth across the region.
“Whether people use to road for work, study or recreation, I urge everyone to look at the plans and have their say.”
The consultation, which can be found on the Highways England website, will run until September 12.