The meeting is due to take place on Wednesday, July 8, in the Ashdown Room at Uckfield Civic Centre, at 6pm.
The Chamber says in a press release that it remains “totally opposed” to a reduction from 43 to 23 on-street parking spaces in town.
It says it also remains “extremely concerned” at the proposed long period of disturbance, in particular the impact this will have on High Street retailers.
The full Chamber press release is here:
On Thursday 11 June, representatives of the East Sussex County Council together with Councillors Galley and Claire Dowling presented to 10 members of the Executive Committee of the Uckfield & District Chamber of Commerce the latest ideas for changing the car parking arrangements in Uckfield High Street. This follows the petition of 5,000 signatures against removal of car parking and the town referendum. The latest plans show a reduction in spaces from 43 to 23 in the section of the High Street from Hempstead Road/Church Street junction to River Way. The Chamber remains totally opposed to the removal of so many spaces. This will have an adverse effect on the health and prosperity of the High Street.
The Chamber also remain extremely concerned at the proposed long period of disturbance in particular the impact this will have on High Street retailers. The Council’s preferred option of implementation is a 32 week programme. Stage 1, in Autumn 2014, was only 9 weeks’ long but saw a massive drop in footfall to the town and brought many traders to their knees. An extended programme of works could have a significant impact on the financial stability of the town well beyond the High Street.
President Fiona Monson of Armida Chartered Accountants said “Whilst the York Stone installed at the bottom of the High Street has improved the look of the pavements significantly, we question whether it is worth 8 months of significant disruption. We have asked the East Sussex Project Board to look at whether there could not be significant savings in time and cost by using tarmac or another surface which would be quicker and easier to lay.”
High Street retailer and Vice President, Mark Arno of Carvills Furnishings added, “The High Street is constantly evolving to deal with the competition from the internet and larger towns and I would say has a done a decent job so far. Shoppers get into habits as to where they shop and with the degree of disruption and inconvenience that the proposed works will cause these habits will change – people will shop more on line to save congestion and avoid the town for other shopping. It could take years to get a sufficient number of them to change their habits again and come back.”
The committee are also very concerned that the approval of 1,000 new homes at Ridgewood Farm is going to put further significant impact on the local road network. Several committee members expressed the view that traffic flow was perfectly acceptable as it is and that retaining parking was more important.
The Chamber also asked the Project Board to consider funding a business rates holiday for retailers for the duration of the works to help mitigate the impact.
The Chamber committee are also calling an emergency members’ meeting at 6.00 pm on Wednesday 8 July at the Ashdown Room at Uckfield Civic Centre to canvas the views of the full membership on the revised plans and proposals for traffic management.
Options for traffic management during Uckfield roadworks can be seen here.