What’s so bad about the present A27 arrangements?

A fundamental problem with the existing A27 is the mixing together of shorter distance local traffic and longer distance strategic travel on a low quality road, with inconsistent carriageway standards and a myriad of junctions and accesses.

These circumstances result in insufficient peak period capacity, worse than average congestion, poor journey time reliability, conflicting straight-ahead and turning traffic of differing speed and a poor safety record.

All of the key indicators considered in the recent DfT Study show ‘step changes’ for the worse, as drivers travel East of Lewes. This does nothing to help the need for Eastbourne to be considered ‘well connected’ by visitors, businesses and residents alike.

Why does Eastbourne need improvements to the A27? 

Average household incomes in Eastbourne are at the bottom end of those in East Sussex and the wider South East region. Eastbourne has considerable economic potential, which deserves to be achieved.

Local businesses advise that an improved A27 will enable increased business activity and local prosperity.

Eastbourne has a superb tourist product, world-class seafront environment, UK leading weather and Gateway access to the South Downs National Park, yet attracts too few visitors from beyond its immediate area.

Eastbourne has ambitions to provide a step change in conference facilities, particularly at Devonshire Park which would provide a substantial boost to the local economy. It will, however, need to convince investors and delegates that access arrangements are ‘fit for purpose’.

Faster journey times on the A27 will improve Eastbourne’s connectivity with Brighton, Gatwick and the M25, all of which are vital to economic growth prospects.

Why is provision of a new A27 Expressway so important?

The advice in the Government’s Road Investment Strategy, that Expressway options East of Lewes need to be considered, is most welcome. An Expressway between Beddingham and Cophall Roundabout at Polegate would see a new, faster, safer route serving longer distance travel, with local traffic remaining on the existing road better serving the South Downs National Park and surrounding villages.

Why did you argue for a single carriageway A27 Expressway?

For Eastbourne to see serious improvement to the present A27, a scheme needs to be found which is deliverable, affordable and value for money for the taxpayer.

The most recently improved section of the A27, between the Southerham Junction at Lewes and Beddingham was opened in August 2008. Although recommended by Government Study and ESCC to be of dual carriageway standard, the then Secretary of State for Transport refused to put forward a dual carriageway scheme. Instead he promoted the scheme now built, a single carriageway 3 lane road. In the course of the Public Inquiry, a dual carriageway alternative was worked up and considered by the Public Inquiry Inspector, but was again turned down by the then Secretary of State.

The Southerham to Beddingham section of A27 was recognised to be in an extremely sensitive position with respect to key environmental designations. It is noteworthy that the inclusion of this area within the new South Downs National Park has strengthened the level of protection.

With the 3 lane A27 serving both the existing A27 (2 lanes) and A26 to Newhaven (2 lanes) an issue to be considered within the DfT’s most recent study was whether a new Expressway should be of 2 lane or 4 lane standard. I took the view that, in all the circumstances, it was unlikely that the DfT’s economic studies would support the delivery of a new dual carriageway route, and that therefore it would be best to take strategic traffic off the present A27 and place it on a new road, similar in design to the present 2 lane Pevensey- Polegate Bypass.

Why don’t you just turn the existing road into a dual carriageway?

Whilst this has been suggested by others, it is an unrealistic proposition.  Much of this suggested route widening would compromise the protected areas, and in any event the winding nature of the road, and the 40+ junctions there are along the way is unlikely to mean such an approach would be faster or safer.  Not to mention the disruption to the villages.