Could there be a new super highway from Eastbourne to Lewes?

A27 Lewis to Polegate road near Drusillas. January 22nd 2014 E03206Q ENGSUS00120140122155801
A27 Lewis to Polegate road near Drusillas. January 22nd 2014 E03206Q ENGSUS00120140122155801
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A brand new super highway where motorists could do ten miles in ten minutes to relieve the beleaguered stretch of the A27 between Polegate and Lewes could be on the cards.

The new road – which would start at Cophall roundabout and rejoin the A27 again at Firle is the brainchild of Conservatives and business leaders in Eastbourne who believe the new road is the ideal way to solve the problem of the heavily congested road.

The plan has already been put to the Department of Transport by Conservative MP hopeful Caroline Ansell and leader of the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce Christina Ewbank and is being seen as a far more serious alternative than dualling the current A27 between Polegate to Lewes.

The dualling of the A27 between Polegate and Lewes, which was first suggested more than 20 years ago, plan has virtually been ruled out because it is environmentally unfriendly and there is fierce opposition from conservationists and the South Downs National Park.

The debate over the troubled stretch of road between Polegate and Lewes has been a hot potato for as long as everyone can remember.

ANNEMARIE FIELD takes a look back at some of the proposals, how and why they have fallen by the wayside and what the future holds.

When the problem of the beleaguered A27 road from Polegate to Lewes reared its ugly head yet again earlier this year and appeared on the Department of Transport’s agenda, everyone breathed a collective sigh of exasperation.

Everyone knows something needs to be done to improve the transport links between here and Lewes, but a collection of proposals dating back to the 1980s have failed to find a solution.

In the years in between there have been a raft of proposals which have failed miserably.

Along the way businesses have deserted the town because of the appallingly slow transport link and more and more people have lost their lives at various accident blackspots on the dangerous stretch of road.

Now the A27 is the new topic of conversation as various sections of the Eastbourne to Portsmouth road are being investigated for funding for improvement by the Department of Transport.

Cost and benefit will drive the government’s decision on where money will be spent. That will be determined this year, with evidence-gathering completed by the end of this month.

A feasibility study will revisit all previous proposals, good and bad but unfortunately the issues are unchanged.

Adding a carriage to the existing road has always been a real no-go. Not only are there almost 50 junctions, access road, driveways, pull-ins, bus stops and farm entrances, the winding lay of the land carries serious safety issues.

The dualling plan of the 1990s would have seen a new road, dual carriageway, offline from the Cophall roundabout, reconnecting with the existing A27 route around Firle for approximately two miles then breaking away offline again to Beddingham.

That plan has recently been described by an industry expert as “a beast” built within the South Downs National Park, over engineered with motorway style junctions at the foot of Mount Caburn, cutting through Sites of Special Interest, water meadows, bisecting the ancient downland villages of Selmeston, Alciston and then necessitating complex and costly changes at Beddingham to accommodate multiple lanes.

Bearing in mind the South Downs National Park is now the planning authority for any road development within its boundaries, it’s doubtful a dual carriageway would be in line with their vision and values.

Previous bypasses suggested along the A27 were also kicked out in the early noughties after being branded too environmentally destructive and would effectively have created racing tracks around downland villages.

Bearing in mind, a decision by the department of Transport rests on three principles: deliverable, affordable, value for money.

People need to get together now and support the one they feel will deliver on all three. Otherwise it may be another 30 years before the town gets its chance to see an improvement to the troubled road.