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On the route of the proposed Queensway Gateway road (Photo: CHD).

The proposed Queensway Gateway road has attracted widespread opposition (Photo: CHD).

New hearing for Queensway Gateway road

Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee will meet at the White Rock Theatre on Tuesday 15 December to consider a revised application from Sea Change Sussex seeking planning permission for the controversial Queensway Gateway road. Opponents, Combe Haven Defenders, say that the road will still cause illegal levels of air pollution and, if approved, could lead to a further legal challenge. Nick Terdre reports.

Planning permission for the Queensway Gateway road through Hollington Valley was granted by the planning committee in February but was quashed in June when a local resident applied to the High Court for a judicial review.

At the time the council said it would reconsider the scheme. Sea Change Sussex has now submitted revised documentation in support of its new application. In a letter to the planning department, chief executive John Shaw says that the original application overstated the forecast traffic levels and contained a methodological error in calculating average traffic levels.

A supplement to the original environmental statement provides new calculations of the air pollution which the road is expected to cause. These show acceptable nitrogen dioxide levels as measured at various residential receptors at housing locations in the vicinity of the road, but levels exceeding critical limits at ecological receptors located at distances of up to 200 metres from the road. A similar result was found at the ecological receptors when the original calculations were made.

At its worst, by the kerb, the nitrogen dioxide concentration is now predicted as 170 micrograms per cubic metre, nearly six times the critical level of 30 micrograms per cubic metre. “The NOx [nitrogen dioxide] critical level and nitrogen deposition critical load is predicted to be exceeded at all distances from the QGR with the proposed development in place,” the document states.

“[Sea Change’s] own evidence shows that air pollution levels at ecological receptors in the Hollington Valley Local Wildlife Site – through which the road would pass – would be up to 570% above permitted levels,” say CHD.

With the case scheduled to come before the planning committee, a Sea Change spokesman declined to comment on these findings, but told HOT: “We are fully satisfied with the additional information we’ve submitted to Hastings Borough Council on the Queensway Gateway road scheme. We look forward to the council’s planning committee reconsidering the scheme later this month.”

CHD has a different take. “SeaChange Sussex has performed a conjuring trick to get the pollution levels in people’s homes just below the legal limits, but has failed to do the same for pollution levels in the local wildlife site,” said spokesperson Andrea Needham.” Hastings Council is desperate for this road and seems to be prepared to ignore this unlawful pollution, which is what got them into trouble the first time. They cannot simply accept SeaChange’s contention that pollution levels in Hollington Valley – almost 600% above what is allowed – should be disregarded.

“As far as we can see, the revised figures that now supposedly bring the proposal within EU limits simply don’t add up. It is difficult to see how this application, if passed again, will be in compliance with EU obligations, and the council is therefore risking further legal challenge as well as fines for breaching EU law.”

CHD also questions whether the VW emissions scandal mean that actual vehicle emissions are in fact much higher than previously supposed. They note that in a recent court case, Defra, the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, admitted that the real-world emission performance of vehicles was higher than in regulatory test cycles.

The Queensway Gateway road scheme has attracted several hundred objections, many of them since the re-application was made. Sea Change justifies the road as being needed for forthcoming employment development. But as some of the objectors point out, a local need has to be established to justify development proposals within local wildlife sites, and given that Sea Change is unable to fill the business parks it has already built in the area, it cannot be said that a local need for the road has been shown.

The planning committee meeting is being held in White Rock Theatre as the usual Town Hall premises are unavailable, a council spokesman told HOT. The meeting also appears to have special status, as it has been arranged outside the usual schedule of four-weekly meetings held on Wednesdays. The meeting starts at 6pm.

 

Documents and objections related to this application, HS/FA/14/00832, can be found here.

Posted 12:35 Sunday, Dec 6, 2015 In: Campaigns

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