Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has sent a message to campaigners against a new offline dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate, saying she now believes Highways England should improve the existing A27, with dualling where possible. A public meeting in Selmeston this week welcomed the news.
In 2017 Mrs Caulfield, along with former Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, persuaded Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to spend up to £3m on further studies on an offline expressway. A 2015 bid to build the new road was , rejected because it was poor value for money, at £405m. The new report, taking into account future developments in Wealden, is now with the Department of Transport for a decision before the end of this year. Though the business case and preferred corridor remain ‘confidential’, Highways England have confirmed an upper price estimate of £528m
.In an email to SCATE, the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment, Mrs Caulfield says “I have made clear that I would like to see any funding to dual the existing road and improve access for all road users and not for a new road as some in Eastbourne would like”
.Liam Russell, Chairman of SCATE East Sussex which organised the Selmeston meeting said “Mrs Caulfield’s support for a re-think of the Highways England plans is most welcome. At our meeting last night we were able to demonstrate that the biggest problem with the existing A27 is the congestion caused by queuing to get off it, rather than the road itself. The Highways England proposals will not resolve this”.
“We are calling for a rethink, with improved rail and bus services as well as some dualling and modest improvements to the existing road, including the junctions at both ends, which we are sure will be a better solution than spending many hundreds of millions on a new dual carriageway through a treasured landscape”he added