Transport for the South East (TfSE) have published a draft strategy

A new sub-national transport body for the South East, Transport for the South East (TfSE), was launched in 2017. The chair is Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council. The vice-chair is Cllr Tony Page, the deputy leader of Reading Borough Council and representative of the Berkshire Local Transport Forum.

TfSE takes in Berkshire, Brighton and Hove, Kent, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Medway, Portsmouth, Southampton, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex.

TfSE together with the area’s 16 transport authorities and five local enterprise partnerships are to work directly with the Department for Transport and will involve other key stakeholders, including Highways England, Network Rail and transport operators and users.

They have been developing a Transport Strategy – click the image below to read the document.

 

TfSE said on their web site:

The South East in 2050: Our Strategy

At the heart of Transport for the South East is our evolving transport strategy for the region; a strategy to transform travel in ways which improve people’s lives and help the economy to grow.

Our strategy will take us to the year 2050. We know the South East, like the rest of the country, will be vastly different in 30 years’ time. The ways we travel, how we work, live, communicate, consume and spend our leisure time will all be radically different. The purpose of our strategy work is to anticipate and adapt to these changes. We can shape the future, with the right investment, technology and insight to guide us.

Our final strategy, the blueprint for transport in the South East, will be completed at the end of 2019. But work is already under way on its building blocks. The first of these is our Economic Connectivity Review. This is a study of how the South East’s economy works, how it connects to national and international markets and which are the key corridors of transport where investment will have the greatest effect.

The study is being conducted by consultants Steer Davies Gleave and has been published in draft for key partners and stakeholders to give us their views on this initial blueprint by 19 June 2018.

We’ll be consulting with partners, businesses and residents across the South East once we have drafted the final strategy for our region. This will guide the work of Transport for the South East from the moment it becomes a statutory body, expected to be by 2020.

 

A full house at Selmeston Village Hall as locals discuss concerns over plans for A27 dual carriageway road!

After recent confusion over proposed Government plans for the A27 extension between Lewes and Polegate, South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE), the Folkington Estate and RH & RW Clutton presented to a ‘full house’ at Selmeston Village Hall on June 12th, to determine the truth and what could be done to influence the outcome of Highways England’s proposals.

SCATE suggest that members of the public write to their MP and to their councillors at Wealden and East Sussex councils, expressing their views whether for or against a new road through the countryside. Anyone who wants to be kept informed was advised to join SCATE (membership is free).

Click here to see links to the report of the meeting & presentations (at bottom of page)

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Arundel Bypass takes a battering

On Wednesday 23rd May, ten national environmental and conservation organisations wrote a joint letter to Michael Gove (Environment Secretary) and Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) outlining their concerns about Highways England’s preferred route for the Arundel bypass (a slightly modified option 5A).  This would destroy around 6 hectares of ancient woodland and a swathe of the South Downs National Park.  It would also bisect the village of Binsted and destroy the tranquillity of the Arun Valley and the views along it.

They called for the Arundel bypass and other planned expansions of the A27 to be reviewed and more sustainable solutions to be found that would not jeopordise the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.

A27-Arundel-bypass-national-joint-letter-23-May-2018-clean

Joint letter to Gove & Grayling

The next day, the plans took another battering when the South Downs National Park Authority agreed to seek leave for judicial review of Highways England’s decision to select a slightly modified option 5A and the process leading up to that decision.  This is the second scheme this year that Highways England’s consultation processes and decision making have been legally challenged.  It would suggest that something is seriously wrong with their approach.

Arundel launch for a New Transport Vision

After successful launches in Lewes and Chichester, Arundel will be launching A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast on Thursday, 17 May, 7:30pm at Arundel Town Hall.  Bridget Fox from Campaign for Better Transport will be the keynote speaker.  Refreshments will be available.

The event is free but numbers are limited so make sure you book your ticket early.  Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

New vision launches across Sussex

SCATE’s soon to be published New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast is being launched at a series of local events along the Sussex coast.  The events are open to all and will outline some of the key principles and findings of the report.

Saturday, 21st April – Lewes Town Hall – doors open at 10am for 10:30am – 12:30pm (book a place on Eventbrite – event is free to attend)

Friday, 4th May – Bassil Shippam Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester, PO19 7LG – doors open at 1:30pm for 2pm–3:30pm (book a place on Eventbrite – event is free to attend)

Thursday, 17th May – Arundel Town Hall, from 7:30pm

Appetite for destruction – the Arundel options revealed

Well the day we all feared is upon us: the day that Highways England reveals its options for the A27 around Arundel.

Not unexpectedly, the South Downs National Park takes a huge hit whichever option is chosen, although option 1 is marginally better in that development within the National Park is along the existing alignment of the A27.  Ancient woodland is also for the chop, as though this and other important features matter little.

It would seem that there is no room for compromise when it comes to attempting to move more and more people by car and little consideration of the consequences of pursuing such a policy.  World Heritage Sites (Stonehenge), National Parks, AONBs, ancient woodland, important wildlife sites – none of them matter more than the requirement to shave a few seconds of someone’s journey.

It perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if there was real evidence of the benefits of such an approach, but there aren’t.  In fact all it is likely to lead to is more traffic, leading to congestion just moving somewhere else on the network.  Indeed as the A27 is expanded along its length, more long distance traffic will start using it, further clogging it up again.

The insanity of our current transport policies are clear to be seen by the solutions being proffered here.  If we have a valuable asset such as the National Park, why, if the road is so important, is it not being built in a tunnel for at least part of its length?  The reason being that the benefits of the road are not that great and with the warped logic applied by the Department for Transport that means that it is not cost effective to build a tunnel.

So were the road of massive economic importance we would get a tunnel, but because it isn’t we have to suffer the destruction of a swathe of ancient woodland and huge damage to the National Park.  It’s utter madness!  If we were in The Netherlands, while they like their roads they also build them much more sympathetically.  The A4 north of Rotterdam towards Delft has been placed in a tunnel in the urban area and then sunk below ground level through a wet landscape important for its recreational opportunities, significantly reducing its impact on the surrounding area.  Whereas we have to be grateful for a noise barrier and some tree planting.

We would urge people to reject all three options and support a low impact variant of option 1 as put forward by local people: the new ‘single purple’ route.  This bypasses the key bottlenecks but does so without the harm caused by option 1.  Make sure you have your say and vote for a solution that not only works for today but also for future generations.

A New Road to Devastation?

CPRE Sussex is supporting local residents in their fight to get a sane transport solution for Arundel and the surrounding communities.  It highlights recent research by CPRE nationally which shows that new roads often don’t bring the traffic, congestion and economic benefits claimed.  In fact in the longer term, they can actually make things worse.

CPRE Sussex is encouraging local people to have their say when the consultation on the A27 at Arundel begins sometime this summer, although with the General Election having been called, this may have slipped to the Autumn.  It produced this insert for its last newsletter – the picture on the front showing the view that potentially could be damaged by the type of road Highways England has indicated it wants to build.

Anyone wanting to find out more is encouraged to come on the guided walk along the lone of the old ‘pink-blue’ route on Sunday, 18 June.  Meet 10:30am at Dalloway Road, Arundel or contact arundelscate@gmail.com for more information.

The A27 conundrum

The shock announcement by Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, abandoning the A27 upgrade at Chichester shows the A27 isn’t nationally important.  If it was, the Government would have gone ahead anyway, regardless of local opinion.  However, it also highlights an even bigger issue: while people want a bigger road, in the belief that it will make it easier to get around, they aren’t always prepared to accept the huge social and environmental costs that often come with new roads.

That is why improvements mooted at Worthing do not include a bypass through or under the South Downs National Park as such a road would cause massive damage and huge opposition. Yet like at Chichester, Worthing residents don’t necessarily want the traffic to stay where it is, let alone want more of it.

So where does that leave Arundel?  In between Chichester and Worthing, it nestles on the banks of the River Arun at the foot of the South Downs.  Hardly anyone disagrees that some form of road improvement is required here, but at what cost?

Highways England’s favoured solution of a dual carriageway bypass would rip up ancient woodland on Tortington Common and scar the National Park.  It would increase noise pollution and sever Arundel from Binsted Woods.  The tranquillity of the Arun Valley would be lost forever.

If Highways England pursues this option there will be a lot of opposition.  Instead they need to work with local people who want to improve the A27, but not at the expense of destroying what they value most about the area.

Locals have identified a wide single carriageway solution that bypasses the station and the other bottlenecks.  It doesn’t cause the severance or damage that a high speed dual carriageway would and is receiving widespread backing.  Highways England needs to seriously consider this option or it could find itself with a revolt at Arundel, as it did at Chichester.

Ultimately though, until the Department of Transport start pursuing transport solutions based on evidence, rather than ideology, we are going to continue to be stuck in traffic on the Sussex Coast with few alternatives.  Even an expanded A27 will only bring short-term relief before it rapidly fills up again, clogging our towns and villages up with even more traffic.

There is a reason why the A27 hasn’t been expanded previously and that is because of the problems in doing so. All that has happened is that we’ve wasted the last 15-20 years while local authorities and MPs have largely ignored safer, cleaner, less damaging and often cheaper solutions, while pressing for a bigger A27.

Do we want to waste the next 20 years arguing over the A27 or is it time for a different, less damaging approach?

No Direction

This could be outcome of the recent Highways England consultation on making changes to the A27 around Chichester.  With many people opting to vote for none of the above, Highways England could be left in a difficult situation.  If none of its 5 options receive much support and indeed most people vote against any option, where does it go from here?

We suspect that it will just plough ahead doing what it wants to do, as it usually does.  However, if the outcome is that most people are unhappy with the choice before them it would make sense to halt the process and take stock.  Particularly as the proposals are so divisive.

The problem is that Highways England and many politicians look at issues in a one-dimension way, in complete isolation to other factors.  Yet we have some serious issues to face up to such as:

  • climate change and the need for transport to cut its carbon emissions
  • high levels of air pollution in our towns and cities
  • an obesity epidemic, which costs the NHS in Sussex nearly £500 million a year
  • and in 2035, 10% of the population in Sussex are likely to suffer from diabetes

New roads generally, add to all the above problems, while at the same time consuming vast amounts of public resource.  It seems crazy that we are not investing our money into reducing these impacts and the huge cost to the NHS.  Invest to save, not spend to waste should be the aim and should be the guiding principles for future investment in our transport network.

 

Summer consultation looms

After much rancour and debate, Highways England will be finally consulting on its options for increasing traffic flow along the A27 around Chichester.  These options will not include an A27 northern bypass after Highways England was firmly put in its place by the Department for Transport and told to get on and deliver what it had been tasked with doing.

Highways England has increased the consultation from the 6 weeks previously offered in the spring (and then extended to 7 weeks after much political pressure), to 10 weeks this time round.  However, given that the consultation is taking place over the summer months, when many people are away, this is no great concession.  It should be giving the public at least 12 weeks to respond.

Exactly what is in the consultation we shall have to wait and see, but most likely they will be the same or similar southerly options that were previously leaked to the press. For SCATE members, these plans represent both a threat and an opportunity.  Removing the bottlenecks at the junctions will improve traffic flow and that in itself will encourage more people to drive. So quite how long before congestion creeps back again is anyone’s guess, but it may not take long unless Brexit leads to an economic slowdown. Increased traffic levels also risk adding to pressure at Arundel and Worthing for bigger and faster roads.

Finally, HIghways England needs to grasp this opportunity to address the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders and remove the barrier that the A27 has become for people wanting to cross the bypass.  It has an opportunity to show how it is placing cycling and other environmental issues at the heart of its decision making and construction processes. These cannot be dealt with as bolt on afterthoughts but need to be central to the new design.