Last week our independent Saturday columnist Observer asked readers to come up with a wish list of infrastructure projects for Uckfield. Here’s Observer’s distillation of the comments.
Some great ideas were put forward last week in reply to my call for your ideas on infrastructure for Uckfield as the town continues to grow.
My thanks to everyone who took the trouble to reply – there was plenty of food for thought in the comments this website received on Facebook.
I will give you a flavour of them but will quote William Southgate in some detail. He has lived in the town since 1966 and has seen it grow out of all recognition.
He wrote: “Apart from needing a rail link to the south, the town will need a second secondary school, south of the town, much the same as East Grinstead.
“That will reduce the traffic in town at peak times and perhaps pupils could be shared out between the two schools in the short term to reduce class size and improve the quality of education.
“I would like to see better supermarkets built on the outskirts of the town with access from the bypass. Tesco’s in particular doesn’t need to be in the town centre as they attract a lot of traffic, and the existing Tesco store could be turned into a market like the ones at Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill.
“The hospital needs to be properly funded and better used than it currently is.
“The ambulance station also needs reopening too, to improve response times for call outs.
“My big concern is not only the lack of infrastructure, but lack of employment. Are people going to be prepared to move to Uckfield if the nearest employment is around 20 miles away.
You have to bear in mind that the majority of people who may end up living on the Ridgewood estate will be of working age and now pensions aren’t worth sod all there will be possibly a greater percentage of retirement age workers. You could be looking at employment requirements for around two thousand extra people.
“At least another 750 children of primary school age and the same again of secondary age. The numbers are quite alarming. I would also like to know what age group this development is aimed at.
Sewage Works Corner
“It looks like the first stage of build will only provide a very small number of units of social housing. “No doubt that stage will be left to last and built in ‘Sewage Works Corner’.
“My other great concern is the new road; if it is a road, being built right on that dangerous bend at the bottom of Ridgewood hill. Not a good idea.
“Finally, I think the town could benefit with a slip road on and off the bypass on Rocks Park Road. That would take a lot of traffic out of the town centre – thinking of Rocks Park estate, Church Coombe traffic and Hunters Way.”
Alex Snell said it was obvious that the town needs another primary school, doctors surgery and extension to the college but thinks traffic is going to be the biggest problem.
“The road into town from the bypass past Tesco is terrible at the best of times.
“What I would do is pedestrianise the high street from NatWest to Santander. This would mean traffic unable to turn left up the high street from Bell Farm Road, halving traffic (remember how freely this junction ran when the high street was closed?)
Rail link south
“To make up for that you’d need to dual carriage the by-pass to cope with the additional traffic.
“I think that would work, and bring benefits such as a nicer high street for shopping in.
“Also – getting the London – Brighton 2 line agreed would be a huge win for the town.
Justine Aldridge, who owns a town centre business said she really struggled when the town was only one-way as “even regular customers stayed away as it was inconvenient driving all the way round the bypass to get to me. I rely on cars as well as people on foot as a lot of my products are heavy so this wouldn’t be ideal for business.”
Melissa Tysh suggested regular (2-3 an hour) solar powered public bus to and from town centre to all the housing areas of Uckfield and proper cycle lanes all over Uckfield to encourage less reliance on cars which clog up the centre of Uckfield and are bad for everyone’s health and the environment.
She also suggested a new primary school and GP surgery in the south of Uckfield as part of the new housing development. All infrastructure and housing to be built with energy efficiency and renewable energy (e.g solar panel roofing) in mind to reduce fuel poverty and increase Uckfield’s ability to meet its own energy demands.
Southern’s awful service
Simon Powel: “Travel – particularly rail. Hundreds more people potentially commuting on Southern’s awful service.
“Youth – spaces young people can meet and hang out so they’re not bored and disruptive.”
Robin Eatwell: “Sort out town centre traffic. It needs a major rethink and redesign not just a bit of sticking plaster.”
Jill Young: “We need a decent train service (and Uckfield to Brighton reopened ) and a stop to indiscriminate building of large housing estates in places which is going to clog up the traffic going through town. The present train service is a shambles and there will come a time when trying to get into or through Uckfield will be as unpleasant as the in the days before the bypass was built.”
Those who control our destinies at East Sussex, Wealden and Uckfield town councils should take note of people’s views.
Yes, it is a wish list and, of course, it is uncosted.
Wealden District Council is working on the next version of its Local Plan.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see some of these ideas appearing.
I’m not holding my breath but it would be good to see some proactive planning rather than reactive stuff and meeting housing targets set in Whitehall.
Perhaps those doing the Uckfield Neighbourhood Plan might like to adopt some of these ideas – they probably tally with much of the information they gathered from residents with a series of open days and consultation events.