Ideas for the future of Uckfield which could prove highly controversial have been floated by a group of town councilors.
- Widening the by-pass;
- Constructing slip roads from the by-pass at Rocks Road;
- A 20mph speed limit on all residential streets;
- Possible town centre pedestrianisation; and
- Using level crossings and not bridges if the rail line to Lewes is re-opened.
The ideas surfaced in a document produced by a working group of town councilors which went before last night’s meeting of the full council.
Other members of the authority suggested the working group had gone too far in its initial deliberations and had not produced “what was asked for”.
Cllr Mick Harker said the working group should have first come up with a framework of how the council should go about developing “neighbourhood plans”. They needed to set out how the council could engage townspeople in developing such a plan.
For the purpose of putting together “neighbourhood plans”, the working group had used the current electoral wards – Uckfield Central, Uckfield Newtown and Ridgewood with Uckfield North divided into north east and north west with the centre of London Road being the dividing line.
However, town clerk, Ashley Serpis, told members that electoral wards would not necessarily equate to communities.
The town council noted the report and the working group will continue.
What follows is a summary taken from the document presented to the council meeting and represents the views and opinions of the working group.
North Ward – North East
Safe road crossing: The speed of traffic on Browns Lane (with no visible speed control) creates a danger to residents going to the local shops. There is an underpass but this is unsuitable for mothers with prams, and elderly people.
There is also a need for a safe crossing in the area of the pre-school.
There is a need to protect the open nature of the Manor Park estate which will mean no further infilling by developers. This estate was designed to be open with green spaces which gave this area its character. Constant infilling means the estate is in danger of becoming too densely populated, which in turn could make it one where no one will want to live.
At present, the only significant open space is The Dene This comes under Buxted parish but it is in Manor Park. This is an area which is greatly used by residents and it should be a protected recreation area.
Access to the woodland around this area and leading into Buxted Park should be maintained to ensure the freedom of residents to access this area, for leisurely walks and dog walking.
Future Development: No development should be allowed now or in the future on Hempstead Farm (Sussex Horse Rescue) as this land is on the flood plain and would be a serious overdevelopment of this area.
Play area: There is a need for a play area for the older children on Manor Park estate, currently there is only a small one for the younger children.
Community group: We should be encouraging the formation of a community group. They could act on behalf of the community to improve the area they live in. There are two of these groups in the town at present, one in the North West and one in Newtown, and both are successful in bringing the community together and improving their areas.
North Ward – North West
Play Area: There is a lack of play space for the older children. At present there is an area called “the cage”, set partly in a small area of woodland which no one appears to own. Could this be improved to provide better play are for the older children?
Rocks lake: Rocks lake (pictured above) should be retained for the public, and a pedestrian access should be found so it is more accessible for Uckfield residents.
Footpaths: All old footpaths should be protected and there should be signs to show where they are and where they lead to. This could encourage residents to take walks for a healthier life.
Cemetery: There needs to be land earmarked for the extension of the cemetery in Snatts Road.
Downlands Farm: There is a need to prevent the development of Downlands Farm. Development in this area could have an adverse impact on the town. Uckfield is within the 7km zone of influence for the Ashdown Forest, so any development would not get approval from the planning authority.
Other valuable green areas should be protected. The main area for protection is between The Drive and Hunters Way. This is the “green entrance” to Uckfield from Piltdown, and is mainly wetland. One part of this area could be used for recreation.
In this section we will include areas that are important to Uckfield as a whole.
Traffic relief: There is a dire need for relief from the traffic that the town currently suffers. East Sussex County Council has put forward plans for the relief of the congestion but its proposals will not be accepted by the public as they have no substance and do not demonstrate there will be relief from congestion.
The ideas from the working group is that the only way to reduce the need for traffic to come through the town, or into the town, is to widen the by-pass. This should have happened when it was first built. There needs to be a slip road on and off Rocks Road and this would reduce the volume of traffic using Church Street.
Open spaces: All efforts should be made to retain the playing field at Holy Cross Primary school. The other open green space in central is West park Nature Reserve, Hempstead Meadow Nature Reserve, and the children’s play areas at Hempstead Lane, West Park, and West Park playing field. All these areas should be protected for the future.
It should not need saying that Luxford Field is a permanent open space and can never be anything else.
The group are in full support of the idea of making the “White Rails” area a town square that leads to Luxfords.
How can we pedestrianise part of the town centre? This could mean finding new road space to the shops to the east of the High Street, and possibly implementing option D of the ESCC road plan. This would need looking at and input from the public.
Infrastructure: The town is now desperately in need of better medical practices. It is getting near impossible to get an appointment with a doctor in Uckfield. There is to be a new surgery at West Park to replace the practice at Grange Road but unless there in an increase in the number of doctors this will not improve the situation. We ask that the authorities act now to get the situation under control before it gets any worse.
There is only one area of open space in Newtown that needs preserving for the future – Selby Meadow. This area is looked after by the Newtown action group, and it has generated an area of peace and tranquillity. It is used by some patients from the hospital. The developer of Harland’s estate extension has given the group permission to keep a path mowed from the hospital to the Meadow, so this area has to be kept as it will also act as a green space between the properties in Selby Road and the new houses when the developer starts work.
Victoria, New Barn – and any new area put into use as recreation areas to enhance Victoria and New Barn, should not need any protection in a perfect world but, to ensure the survival of these areas, they should be protected for posterity.
Future Development: Any future development should be required to implement green issues; this could be for every two houses built there should be five trees included in the development.
Sewage treatment works: Because of the volume of properties to be built in the town, discussion should be started with Southern Water to ensure the works can cope with the new developments. The company should be asked to plant more trees around the works to reduce the smells that can come from the area in hot weather.
Allotments: We need to increase the amount of allotments in the town, possibly by an extension of the Framfield Road allotments into the neighbouring farm land. Possibly an approach could be made to Mr Berry, who owns the land, to see if this is possible.
Car parks: There is a desperate need for additional car parks in this area, especially for the train station. The car parks are needed to relieve the parking on residential roads in this area. If the train line to Lewes reopens, this will increase the volume of travellers using the trains, so serious provision needs to be implemented. On the reopening of the line, the only option that should be considered are level crossings – not a bridge. Many towns have level crossings without any problems. If a bridge is insisted on, this will not work because of the area it is in.
Millennium Green: This area needs to be protected because of all the developments happening in the Ridgewood area.
Allotments: Is there space for these allotments to get bigger without taking any recreation ground?
Play areas: Are there sufficient play areas for the young? Is there any place where a new play area can be put? There is a new play are on the Teelings estate, but this will not serve the whole area.
It is widely felt that there needs to be a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads. It is time that Uckfield caught up with the rest of the country.