The Worthing-Lancing A27
Following widespread rejection of Highways England's 2017 "Option 1" (of 1), we are awaiting their next move. This page explains the background and the local issues for the rural community of Sompting.
The problems created for Sompting by Highways England's mismanagement
Sompting's village and parish have fallen victim to Highways England's concern only with their own 'strategic route', and their addiction to building expressways piecemeal regardless of the problems they cause elsewhere. The consequences are:
- The present Sompting Bypass cut the community off from our countryside and historic church of St Mary's, whilst exposing our parish to the noise of speeding 70mph traffic along a short stretch of dual carriageway between traffic lights at Busticle Lane and Lyons Farm, with single carriageway 40mph traffic either side.
- As a result of this high speed section, traffic gets more rapidly to the traffic lights and 40mph sections at either end of the Sompting Bypass, where, rather obviously, queues build up as a result. This prompts traffic to rat-run through the village's West Street, causing congestion and pollution within the village.
Highways England's 2017 Worthing-Lancing A27 consultation:
The consultation proposals were not a glamorous expressway project but they were serious and pragmatic. We're sure that given the criticisms made, Highways England will come back with something better - but not on a different alignment. Given that two thirds of the traffic using the Worthing-Lancing A27 is local (getting from one part of Worthing/Lancing to another), Highways England rightly emphasise that the local authorities should be looking to invest in sustainable transport solutions to reduce this traffic, rather than creating a new trunk route which would only carry one-third of current traffic (so has no 'business case').
Our main concern with Highways England's proposals, from a local point of view
By contrast with those who would have sought a new bypass with a high speed unremitting flow, inducing more longer distance through traffic to use this route, we welcomed that the scheme as proposed maintained focus on resolving local traffic issues within the available RIS1 budget.
Our biggest concern in the interest of those who enjoy, live or work in rural Sompting parish north of the Sompting Bypass, is that any proposals must maintain viable access on and off the A27 from the National Park's side roads of Lambleys, Church and Dankton Lanes.
Bigger concerns from the wider point of view of sustainable transport
In Dec 2020, Highways England claimed they are thinking again: but how fresh, how sustainable will it be? They are not a public-interest transport business: they are a major-road-building business and are neither capable of nor mandated to consider better, more integrated and sustainable traffic management solutions.
Representation: the Worthing-Lancing A27 Working Group
This is a meeting of local politicians businesses and residents groups, convened by councillors and our MP. When active until 2017, it was attended, for the Sompting-Lancing section, by Mike Tristram (or alternatives) for Sompting Estate/SARG, and by Chris Servante and later Tony Nicklen for Sompting Parish Council.
The WLA27WG aimed to improve the quality of dialogue with Highways England and thus to bring together broad local support for the eventually favoured option scheme. Highways England regards these meetings as an opportunity to stimulate public advocacy for them to spend taxpayers' money on the biggest schemes for which they can get political budget approval in each instance.
In this case Highways England were unable to secure a bypass-scale budget because with only one-third of traffic being long distance, not enough of the traffic would transfer to a new and longer route to justify the cost. Highways England's remit and concern are not with local, only with long distance ie national needs. Hence for Worthing-Lancing, they only got a budget suffficient for junction improvements.
But if a grade separated scheme with flyovers and underpasses were to be funded and approved, who would be the winners and the losers? Winners: long distance through traffic, hauliers. Losers might be: local people and businesses who may find it much harder to get on off and across the A27 where we live and work. We will need to appraise any further options with great care and concern as to these potential side effects.