Uckfield will have a “tatty” overcrowded High Street in five years’ time if stage two of road improvements don’t go ahead.
He argued it was time to stop debating the issue. The committee had consulted “endlessly”, going backwards and forwards between the town council, residents, meetings and exhibitions.
“Major changes have been made in response to these meetings and suggestions. I think it is now about time we actually get on with this and cease the debate,” he said.
“We have considered everything in an enormous amount of detail and now is the time to go forward. If we don’t, then in five years’ time there will be a tatty overcrowded High Street with people saying ‘they’ ought to have done something about it.”
The final decision on traffic management will be made by East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment Cllr Carl Maynard at a meeting held in public in the early autumn.
Recommendations agreed by the regeneration joint committee yesterday were:
- The highway improvement scheme progresses with a 30-minute stay for the 23 parking spaces
- There will be no allocated bays reserved for blue badge holders
- Further work is carried out to explore the use of a one-way traffic management solution
- A recommendation is made to the East Sussex County Council lead member of transport and environment to support the progress of the scheme as detailed above.
- A formal response be provided to Uckfield Town Council including the offer of a further meeting to discuss traffic management options for stage two works.
Uckfield town councillor Keith Everett said he needed to make clear the town council couldn’t support recommendations that stated High Street roadworks should proceed.
He added there had been no constructive response to points made by the town council following the latest public consultation and the town council remained of the opinion that 30 parking spaces was the minimum number that should be provided along with loading bays and delivery and pick up points.
He said that in adopting this opinion the town council believed it had the support of a majority of local residents and businesses.
And, he added, there was consensus in the town council that the High Street was in need of a “spruce up” but the wishes of townspeople had not been adequately addressed.
He added the town council was disappointed in a lack of options for managing traffic improvements and believed there was room for further discussion of this issue.
The town council wished it to be known they supported compromise and would work with the Chamber of Commerce and the county council’s lead member for transport and environment to come to an agreement on the way forward.
Earlier Cllr Helen Firth asked why there were no loading bays and was told by Elaine Martin that the 23 spaces were provided for all uses and, at the moment, there were “no ticks on the kerbs” and so parking was allowed on double yellow lines for 20 minutes.
Elaine added there were no plans to include ticks on the kerbs.
County Councillor Rupert Simmons said it was important to reflect on the “remarkable amount” of investigative work undertaken by Elaine Martin and her team in trying to squeeze out the maximum number of parking spaces in Uckfield High Street.
He asked for the committee’s appreciation of the engineers to be recorded. Their work, “recorded scientifically” in a report to the committee was “very much in the interests of the whole town, businesses and residents”.
District councillor Roy Galley said there had been a lot of negative comment about the scheme over the months and the positive aspects were not too clear.
Traffic flow would not be improved as much as originally hoped because of significant changes because of the pressure on parking spaces but it was right to have made the changes, he said.
He added the stage two works would improve pavements and make the town safer for pedestrians. There would be significant improvements to drainage and enhancements to the shopping environment.
Cllr Galley said addressing traffic congestion had to be a major part of the scheme because 106 contributions from developers were largely based upon the need for improved traffic flow and the need for reducing congestion. “You can’t take out that factor entirely.”
He said the number of spaces included in the plan had been scientifically worked out.
“Is anybody suggesting we turn away £2 million of investment … money that will not be there again for decades, for the sake of seven parking spaces?”
He agreed there would be short term disruption for businesses and residents but in the long term the town would be much better.
Cllr Claire Dowling, a county council representative on the joint committee, said that a report on feedback from the last exhibition included a response to the town council and should have been available for the town council’s last meeting.
She asked for that feedback be included, as a formal response, in a letter to the town council. Cllr Dowling’s request was incorporated into the recommendations listed above.
She also made the point that in the stage two roadworks the Bell Lane/High Street junction would remain open at all times and that traffic from Bell Lane would be able to turn right into New Town.
Cllr Dowling said the big problem last time was that all traffic had to use the by-pass. This would not be the case during the next stage.
Uckfield town councillor Ian Smith was elected chairman of the joint committee and county councillor Claire Dowling was elected deputy chairman.
Present at the meeting were:
Chairman, Cllr Ian Smith, (Independent, Ridgewood), representing Uckfield Town Council
Deputy chairman, Cllr Claire Dowling, (Conservative, Uckfield division) representing East Sussex County Council. Cllr Dowling is also a Wealden councillor, central ward)
Cllr Keith Everett, (Independent, Ridgewood), representing Uckfield Town Council
Cllr Helen Firth, (Conservative, New Town ward), representing Wealden District Council. Cllr Firth is also a town councillor, central ward.
Cllr Roy Galley, (Conservative, Danehill, Fletching and Nutley ward), representing Wealden District Council. Cllr Galley is also a county councillor, Buxted and Maresfield division.
Cllr Rupert Simmons, (Conservative, Heathfield division), representing East Sussex County Council.
See also comments from Cllr Smith after the meeting: Uckfield Council and Chamber suggestions would jeopardise project aims.
A report of the last town council meeting can be seen here: High Street roadworks: Uckfield open for business campaign mooted.
Feedback following a questionnaire about the parking limit to be applied to High Street parking and to traffic management options: Uckfield people favour 30-minute High Street parking.
More background about Uckfield Town Council and Uckfield Chamber of Commerce views on the High Street improvements: Uckfield Chamber and town council to meet about High Street improvement works.
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