West Sussex County Council has announced that the A29 at Church Hill, Pulborough, which has been closed since December 2022 due to landslips, will soon be partially reopened. The council will use concrete blocks to create a protected, single lane carriageway down the centre of the road, allowing traffic to pass through. The contractor will start work shortly, and the work is expected to take about two weeks.
The landslide occurred at the narrowest part of the A29, where both sides are flanked by steep embankments, and the road had to be closed for safety reasons. The land on either side of the carriageway, where engineering works must take place to enable the safe re-opening of the road to two-way traffic, is not adopted highway land but owned by private landowners.
WSCC has been negotiating with the landowners to reach an agreement to carry out the necessary survey and other works on the land, but the negotiations have been unsuccessful. Therefore, WSCC has issued a notice to the landowners pursuant to Section 151 of the Highways Act 1980, requiring them to remove the debris that has fallen from their property, which is blocking the road, and to carry out the works required on their land to prevent a future reoccurrence of the slippage.
The one-lane solution proposed is a temporary measure pending a permanent solution. WSCC had previously resisted calls to re-open the road with a single lane, as it was hoped that an agreement with the landowners could be reached quickly, avoiding the need to reclose the road at some point and reinstate the diversion route to carry out the works. However, given the time that has already elapsed, the certainty of further delay and after listening to residents and other interested parties, it was decided to implement a one lane system as an improvement on the current complete closure.
Matt Davey, WSCC Director of Highways, said that the council had offered to undertake the works on the private land to reopen the road to one lane of traffic. He added that the council had been optimistic about reaching an agreement with the landowners, but unfortunately, they had been unable to do so. He urged the landowners to be pragmatic in their approach to the ongoing discussions.