We face significant challenges locally to balance the need to provide more homes with protecting our natural environment and existing communities. To dive into these issues, last week I held the Chichester Community Conference. The online panel event included, both local councils, Highways England, Natural England, Southern Water and The Environment Agency, covered a huge range of local concerns, around key infrastructure and the A27, planning and development, and environmental concerns including sewerage releases into both the Chichester and Pagham Harbours. I am grateful to everyone who came online to watch and participate live, but in case you were unable to attend, a recording of the conference is now available on my website,www.gilliankeegan.com. Over the coming days, we will also be posting further information on some of the topics discussed and some written responses on the technical detail covered during the conference.
During the Conference one big piece of new and positive news came from Highways England (HE) who updated us on their work on the A27. Back in March 2020, the A27 Chichester Bypass was included in the Department for Transport’s list of projects to be developed for possible future funding, sharing a £347 million funding pot as one of 32 possible schemes nationwide. This work will then lead to some of those to be included in the Road Investment Strategy 3 (RIS3) which is between 2025-2030.
At the Conference, Highways England explained that the project is at a very early stage, which means they’ll be considering new and previous options. As they’re developed over the coming 12 months they will be undertaking traffic modelling using previous modelling and fresh data. As part of the process, HE will begin engaging with a wide range of stakeholders later this year and have promised they will be transparent with stakeholders and hold open discussions on the complexities around them.
Having a transparent and open process with Highways England has been a goal of mine ever since becoming an MP, so I am pleased that we are heading in that direction. We have an opportunity to work collaboratively as a community with Highways England to develop a workable solution.