Access to Hastings
Access to Hastings Multi-Modal Study
What next:- added 11-11-01
The Highways Agency at Dorking is studying and drawing up plans for the widening of the A21 at Castle Hill. The plans will be completed in December 2001. The contact for comments at the Agency is Mike Ford, Tel: 01306 878219 before December. TWFoE’s response.
I believe the environmental case is at least as strong as those against the six lanes. You may bear in
mind that that six lane dog legged around Castle Hill to avoid something. I know there are a lot of
designated bits of the including Tudley Wood RSPB nature reserve and also the scheduled monument
I intend commenting using something based on my response to the Access to Hastings Final Report.
In addition another Hastings bypass is threatening and another study by SEEDA and East Sussex
County Council. This new bypass in a Western bypass but on a different line, with development of
green fields and therefore must be job losses similarly to the A2H study calculated.
There is also another study of the A21 South of Pembury.
Carrier out by a group of consultants lead by Steer Davis Gleave between November 1999 and December 2000.
Although the Hastings bypasses will not be built saving 300 jobs, the Castle Hill Section of A21 between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells plans will be drawn up of the on line route.
The Access to Hastings Multi-Modal Study is the first to involve ordinary people in the evaluation processes. The study recognizes that high level of car dependency contribute to environmental and safety problems in this area. The study recognize disparity in perceptions and actualities.
It is disappointing that the study has not been as Multi-modal as we may have wished. We don’t think the effect of additional traffic has been mitigated, or potential for expansion of access to Tunbridge Wells by rail that is a feature of the town explored. The possibility of re-opening the line to Lewes, and rail freight sidings at Longfield Road, and restoring dual track working to Hastings, has not been explored.
GOOD SAFETY RECORD AT CASTLE HILL: The report acknowledges that accident rate at Castle Hill is equivalent to the national average for the road type. The study compares an on-line [DOT Map(600K)] with off-line road scheme and predicts that the former would better in this respect, but does not compare with the road as it is. No noticeable short term traffic reductions on the A26, and no long term local benefit. Presumably we can expect more vehicle traffic to reduce Air quality and road safety in Sherwood, Longfield Road and High Brooms, for example.
SEVERANCE: How will Cyclists and Pedestrians cross the A21 at the Longfield Road? The study does not rate this problem, though hospital employees cycle across this junction. A wider road would exasperate severance of the two public footpaths at the Stud Farm and near the petrol station. We don’t know how this will be addressed?
ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: Particular note is made of the adverse effect to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty form much of the length of the A21 studied. Though a environmental study has not been carried out on the proposals in the study, Castle Hill is designated Metropolitan Green Belt, Kent Special Landscape Area, Special Nature Conservancy Interest, and Tuddley Wood RSPB nature reserve. There is also Hill Fort (scheduled ancient monument). Building in the north Tunbridge Wells will follow result in loss to more of the natural environment.
Recommended a choice of two ways forward (strategy 12 and 13). To develop what the town has already, or build roads and attract new green field building. The latter would surely result in the run down parts of St. Leonard’s and Bexhill, which are being renovated being neglected for cheaper green field development. I understand. It seems that a number of local people, arts, small business etc. prefer the former option the green local regeneration option. The consultants pressed hard to be allowed to offer this option. The western bypass goes through Combe Haven the most important archaeological site in the South East
Since the Final report:
The South East England Regional Assembly has taken the report and gone forward with the road building strategy for Hastings stripping off the environmental and public transport conditions within that package. The officers of SEERA had added another important condition omitted in the report. This means if the recommendation of SEERA is taken forward by government that the money spent on the study has been wasted.
SEERA, is bigger business and Tory run the Hastings MP Michael Foster is Labour – it does not take much imagination to see that unless the MP disowns SEERA’s actions and supports the no-bypass option he will have walked in to a trap. The study consultants may not have been told that Combe Haven where the western bypass would go through is the most important archaeological site in the South East. Both bypasses have server environmental implications. FoE are considering making this a major national issue.
Archie Norman MP at the time of his directorship of rail track, admits to pressing Lord Whitty for A21 road be built at Castle Hill, as part of the same study. Rail Track have been much criticized for resisting investment presumably. Steer Davis Gleave the study consultants pressed very hard for the rail line Tunbridge Wells to Lewes be included in the study
More to follow