Major roadworks are scheduled to begin in Uckfield town centre on January 11 and last until May.
UK Power Networks (UKPN) will install new underground 33kv high voltage electricity cables from the sub-station in Bell Lane to the 1,000 homes development at the former Ridgewood Farm.
The project is to ensure “safe and reliable power supplies”.
Multi-way signals will be in place to control traffic as excavation gets under way to install ducts, backfill and reinstatement.
The route will go via the High Street, New Town, to the Highlands roundabout and then Lewes Road to Ridgewood Place.
News of the start date for the works was given by East Sussex County Councillor Chris Dowling (Uckfield South with Framfield) at an Uckfield Town Council meeting last night (December 8).
Christmas trade fears
The work was due to take place in the autumn but was delayed after concerns that the roadworks would damage Christmas trade in the town’s shops.
He said in the late summer the county highways department withdrew permits issued for the works and since then negotiations had taken place.
The work will begin in the town centre, he said. There will be one set of roadworks in place at a time – previously there would have been two in operation at the same time.
“I think we are all going to have to be very, very patient,” he commented.
Working hours will be 7am to 7pm on weekdays, 8am to 5pm on Saturdays, and Sundays from 9am to 1pm
“They are really going to accelerate this through. This is going to be a large project,” Cllr Dowling said.
Town councillor Chris Macve said he could not understand the route chosen when far less disruption would be caused to the town centre if a different route to Ridgewood Farm had been chosen.
He said it could have gone along the wide verge at Bell Lane and along the by-pass verge to reach the bottom of the Ridgewood Farm development site.
County councillor Claire Dowling (Uckfield North) replied: “When we first heard about the electrical cable that was being laid, our hearts sank because it was going through the town.
“We asked why.
“The response that came back was that UKPN had investigated all the potential routes.”
She said the permit-issuing authority [East Sussex Highways] could not make a utility company do something it may not wish to do.
Night-time works on A22 by-pass
Cllr Chris Dowling also said extra night works would be carried out on the A22 Uckfield by-pass where a new roundabout is being constructed to provide the main access to the Ridgewood Farm development.
“They are a little bit behind schedule due to the adverse weather,” he said.
He had been notified that works this week would be on Thursday and Friday and Monday to Friday next week. They will take place from 9pm to 5am.
The 9pm start is to avoid conflicting with any late-night shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
More Uckfield roadworks loom
Other works associated with the Ridgewood Farm development are on the horizon, as this website revealed in September.
The entrances to the A22 roundabouts at Little Horsted and Copwood are to be widened.
These works were mandated as part of the granting of planning permission for the Ridgewood Farm development.
The works at the Copwood roundabout (at the junction with Bell Farm Road) must be completed prior to the occupation of the 100th house and the improvements at the Little Horsted roundabout prior to the occupation of the 450th house.
When will they start?
Cllr Macve asked Cllr Chris Dowling at the town council meeting if there was any news of when those works might start.
Cllr Dowling said he would make inquiries.
Ridgewood Place progress
Updates on the Ridgewood Farm development were given to Maresfield Parish Council at its meeting in October.
Minutes of that meeting state, in relation to reports by, and questions to county councillors:
“Ridgewood – 250 houses in phase one have been completed.”
And, in respect of reports from district councillors, the minutes state:
“Ridgewood Development – the houses are reportedly not selling very quickly.
“It was noted that there is a degree of phasing and that the ‘master’ developer may have sold on the rights for further development.”