By Lotte Pegler
‘Unsatisfactorily muddled and divisive’ is how Walberton’s councillors have described the Arundel bypass consultation.
This comment came after West Sussex County Council backed the magenta bypass route at a committee meeting on Monday. Walberton Parish Council held an extraordinary full council meeting immediately after the county council vote was passed, voicing their disappointment.
Walberton councillors came together to say their preferred route was crimson, saying:
“It has historically, from well before 2017, been the preferred compromise route of local communities.
“Walberton Parish Council members were swayed by comments made to them by Highways England and by our MP and others in both 2017 and 2019 saying it was unattainable.
“In the last few weeks, we have written confirmation from Highways England that the crimson option is in fact ‘viable’ and that there is no clear planning reason for them to indicate a negative planning outcome.
“As best it can Walberton Parish Council has confirmed this is legally correct.
“Therefore, on this ground it considers the consultation has lacked transparency and fairness and been unsatisfactorily muddled and divisive.
“An attempt at the end of the consultation period to build stakeholder and public consensus for crimson was unsuccessful.”
Chairman Suzanne Clark said:
“Walberton Parish Council is obviously extremely disappointed in the decision to recommend the magenta route.
“Not only West Sussex County Council but also Nick Herbert MP, Arun District Council, Arundel Town Council and an Arundel community group, all seem determined to keep Arundel as one but create two Walbertons.”
The magenta route, if chosen by Highways England next year, will cut directly through the two villages of Walberton and Binsted.
“Our parish will be divided in two by the closure of Hedgers Hill, the only road that links Walberton and Binsted, thereby severing our community.
“We risk a big increase in traffic with the huge multi-way junction which will create a north-south super highway from Yapton to Slindon.
“The compulsory purchase of likely half of Binsted’s houses will decimate the village.
“Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council both stress the importance of the bypass to our local economy, but forcing the potential closure of the Black Horse inn in Binsted, which employs about 19 staff, and the Avisford Park Hotel, the only large hotel in Arun district, and with conference facilities bringing in significant revenue to the area, seems to go against this.
“We have tried very hard to bring all local communities together in uniting on a preferred off-line bypass in uniting on a preferred, more affordable and less divisive off-line bypass, namely the crimson route, but we seem to be a lone voice.”
The meeting of the environment, communities and fire select committee on Monday saw seven members, with five voting in favour, one against and one abstention.