Closure of New Road, Uckfield, to be reviewed next week

More evidence is needed before a decision can be made on whether the closure of New Road, Ridgewood, should be made permanent, according to a report going before county councillors next week.

Comments following an experimental closure of the road have been analysed but the report concludes that because there is a fine balance between achieving highway benefits and having an adverse impact on local business the whole matter should be given further consideration.

The road was closed in March because of concerns that it would be used as a rat run between Lewes Road and Eastbourne Road once 240 new homes had been built in Eastbourne Road.

Since then thirty-seven letters have supported the road closure and 76 opposed it.

Supporters said New Road was now safer for pedestrians and cyclists and those going to the village hall, Millennium Green and allotments.

Fewer vehicles travelled along the road and lorries were unable to use it as a short cut.

But objectors said there had been an adverse effect on local businesses, it was inconvenient and had resulted in additional travel distance.

They also said alternative options had not been sufficiently investigated and it would not be possible to tell whether any ‘rat running’ had increased before the development off Eastbourne Road had been fully built and occupied.

The report which will go to a meeting of the East Sussex County Council planning committee on Wednesday, October 20, says the owners of the shop and Post Office in Lewes Road near the junction of New Road had experienced a reduction in trade every month during the period of experimental closure.

May and June saw the greatest reduction with takings down in both months by nearly 12% on the previous year.

This was followed by August (8%), April (5%), July (1%) and March, the first month of the closure only showing a minor reduction.

Other businesses had not made representations to the council.

The report says only 54 of the 240 new homes being built in Eastbourne Road have so far been occupied.

It goes on to say that at the current build rate the development will be completed towards the end of 2012.

“A number of options were considered during the consultation phase but full closure was the most supported option even though the Section 106 obligation referred specifically to a partial closure preventing traffic exiting New Road on to Lewes Road,” says the report.

The planning committee is advised to recommend to the Lead Member for Transport and Environment that there is insufficient evidence to enable the planning committee to properly consider representations following the experimental traffic regulation order and he collect further evidence and give further consideration to the proposed road closure.

For more detail see the county council report.

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