COUNCILLORS have backed a ‘divisive’ road scheme currently costed at between £320 and £455 million.

During a four-hour long meeting on Thursday (March 3), Arun’s district councillors discussed their response to the A27 Arundel Bypass Grey Route.

Although the final decision on the bypass will not rest with the council and it will instead be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, ADC has been asked to feed into a consultation on the scheme.

It became clear that few councillors, if any, were happy with National Highways’ preferred Grey Route but it was eventually touted as ‘better than no bypass at all’.

The council previously announced its support for the Magenta Route which is no longer on the table.



But eventually 25 councillors agreed to support the Grey Route so long as rat-running through local villages, such as Walberton, is addressed and a Ford Road junction is included in the plans.

Six councillors voted against supporting the scheme with four abstaining.

‘Weak’ and ‘woolly’ were some of the words used by Lib Dem councillor Henry Jones (Yapton) to describe the council’s original response.

“We need to be steadfast in showing National Highways that there are certain requirements that we must have,” he said.

Council leader Shaun Gunner (Con, Rustington East) reaffirmed his support for a bypass, saying: “I think if we did a referendum of the Arun district, they would be overwhelmingly in favour.” 

“It would not have been the route that I would have chosen and tonight, although I’m not a fan of the grey route, we are not debating what our preferred route is,” he added.

“I’d rather have a bypass than no bypass at all.

“I support a Ford junction and want to see that happen and we must continue to work with National Highways and West Sussex County Council.

“I support any and all activity to reduce the rat-running through villages, in particular Walberton and I support any and all work to mitigate flooding challenges on the Arundel floodplain.

“Finally, I want to express my deep frustration with National Highways at the lack of information they’re providing communities, and the lack of transparency we are seeing from them.”

No Grey Banner Arundel bypass (copyright James de Bounevialle)

No Grey Banner Arundel bypass (copyright James de Bounevialle)

Andy Cooper (Con, Angmering and Findon) encouraged his fellow councillors to support the bypass in its current form.

“Let’s be clear,” he said, “there’s no other route on the table here this evening – we need to make the right decision for all of our communities in this district, not just the ones that are being the most vocal.”

Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel & Walberton) expressed frustration that traffic modelling did not necessarily take into account upcoming developments in the area.

“It turns out that their traffic figures are on the basis of this district building only 785 houses a year,” he said.

Since its inception, the scheme has been subject to multiple campaigns including one asking for an ‘Arundel Alternative’ route or no route at all.

Chair of the Arundel South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE), Kay Wagland, said: “It will dramatically increase traffic on narrow village lanes, demolish homes, and destroy countryside, including through Tortington.”

But Paul Dendle (Con, Arundel and Walberton) said activists were attempting to ‘cancel the will of the district’.

“I would say two thirds of the people in my ward are for this bypass, one third is against and I accept that,” he said.

“Every time we’ve tried to have a fair debate, we’ve been stopped by people, say the Green Party and lots of people, activists from Brighton, who have tried to actually cancel the will of the district in having this piece of infrastructure delivered.

“Whether you like the route or not, it’s the only route in town.”

These views were met with criticism from Green councillor Isabel Thurston (Barham), who said: “I find it incredible that members can simply allow this area of the district to be collateral damage.”

Hugh Coster (Ind., Aldwick East) said any councillor who supported the Grey Route should be ‘ashamed’.

“We’ve been elected by the public to look after their area, protect the environment, and ensure that their homes and communities are not compromised,” he said. 

Eventually, the Lib Dem amendments to the council’s response were accepted, with some alterations to the wording.

Opposition leader Dr James Walsh (LDem, Beach) said: “We all know what ‘continuing current discussions’ means – they go on forever and get nowhere.

“Everybody in this chamber believes strongly in inclusion of a junction with the A27 at Ford Road.

“Why not say so bluntly and strongly?”