EAST SUSSEX County Council is to decide next week on the best three or four options for a controversial new 5.6km road to link the coastal town of Bexhill with the A21 London road.
The move comes amid local concern that Rother District Council had already decided on a final route (NCE 11/25 December 2003).
The 'most viable options' will be picked from a possible 16 to be put up for public inspection in a six week consultation starting next month.
The £40M scheme is being promoted by the county council and Rother District Council as vital for the economic regeneration of Bexhill.
Rother had warned that it will have to scrap a 1,500 home scheme planned for the area if no road is built.
Environmental groups oppose the plans as the routes are set to cut through or pass near sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) and nature conservation (SSNC).
It is expected that the options offered at public inquiry will include a route that spans directly across the SSSI along the line of a disused railway.
Other options will be a route to the north of the SSSI but cutting close to the SSNC, and a route to the south that clips the SSSI.
The new road is needed as road access to Bexhill is heavily constrained with the A259 from Hastings a major bottleneck.
A bypass around Hastings and Bexhill was rejected in 2001 by the government on environmental grounds.