www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Excavation for the Egerton Stream flood compensation (photo: ESCC).

Bexhill’s road to prosperity

While the work on the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road remains on track for scheduled completion by spring next year, public transport improvements made possible by the link road are also expected to contribute to vastly improved transport communications between Hastings and Bexhill. The county is suffering its wettest winter for 20 years, and the link road would have been really useful last week when storm damage necessitated the closure of the A259 at Bulverhythe and the simultaneous rupture of Hastings-Bexhill rail services, writes Chris Cormack.

Vertical band drain installation at Combe.Haven (photo: ESCC).

Bob Pape, the Link Road project manager, said: “The project is still on programme to complete in May 2015, so everything is going according to plan. The weather conditions have been difficult and challenging for the workforce on site….allowances have been made in the programme. We know the valleys flood at this time of year and there’s always likely to be plenty of rain.”

At Queensway, the Hastings end of the scheme, work is underway to create the new bridge to cross the main railway line.  The bridge beams are expected to be put in place across the rail tracks in May and June, which will involve the temporary closure of the railway line during a series of 20 to 30 non-disruptive, short-duration, night-time closures.

Woodsgate Park overbridge on schedule for reopening in April photo: ESCC

At the Bexhill end of the scheme, the new Chapel Path Underpass is nearing completion with the major structural work now complete. Teams are engaged on the paving work and other finishings while the underpass is expected to open to the public in April. The replacement Woodsgate Park Overbridge has had the new steel bridge beams lifted onto the abutments and construction work is on schedule for the reopening of the bridge in April.

Bus journey times are set to fall as a result of proposed improvements to the A259 at Bulverhythe. East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is consulting on the introduction of new dedicated bus lanes on the A259 Bexhill Road as part of a range of highway improvements which are being introduced to complement the opening of the new Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.

With traffic levels on the notoriously congested A259 expected to fall by around 40% as motorists divert to the new road, ESCC is proposing to introduce five new sections of bus lane after the Link Road opens in May 2015. The new lanes, between Glyne Gap roundabout and Filsham Road, will be accompanied by work to upgrade the bus stops along the route, including new shelters, raised kerbs and real-time passenger information signs. The consultation runs from Friday 31 January to Friday 28 February.

Map showing the location of proposed new bus lanes on the A259 (image: ESCC).

Cllr Carl Maynard, county council lead member for transport and environment, said: “The building of the Link Road will have a dramatic effect in easing the long-standing problem of congestion on the A259…. and gives us a unique opportunity to implement changes which will reduce bus journey times and improve reliability, building on the success already achieved by the Hastings Quality Bus Partnership.”

In January Rother District Council granted outline planning permission for the creation of Bexhill Enterprise Park on land at Glovers Farm, in Glovers Lane, near the new Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. The scheme was described as a ‘catalyst’ for the town’s future economic development. Promoted by Sea Change Sussex, it should see a mix of office space and light industrial use, which will appeal to local companies, small and medium enterprises and regional firms.

Cllr Brian Kentfield, chairman of the planning committee, said: “We need more jobs and opportunities, particularly for our young people, and this scheme, in conjunction with the gateway road and proposed new housing, will deliver jobs, prosperity and sustainable long-term growth…..and delivers our aspiration for a high quality sustainable urban extension to the town.”

Posted 08:46 Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 In: Home Ground

27 Comments


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  1. paddy stephenson

    If the traffic flow along the Bexhill Road is going to decrease due to this by pass, why are there plans to put bus lanes in the Bexhill Road – this does not make sense especially as this road is far too narrow and residents do have to park their cars there as few have off road parking and garages…a new chaotic situation in the making?

    Comment by paddy stephenson — Thursday, Jan 15, 2015 @ 19:48

  2. Anthony Bradnum

    I have read with dismay the above article and with interest the comments which followed. I have been opposed to the new Link Road since the outset and I feel there are two points which are relevant and can be added to the well made points above … Firstly in my opinion, to suggest that new roads create jobs and boost the economy is an unfounded statement.I have searched for evidence of this and can find no direct evidence supporting that claim. It is easy to say these claims but where is the evidence? If this government is really serious about boosting the economy, it could start by spending money on what we already have, I.e. a road infrastructure which is in desperate need of funding,
    I quote from The Local Govenment Association (LGA) publication which was published 19th June 2013 Ref: Britains potholed roads desperately need funding:-
    “Decades of underinvestment from the Govenment is now undermining economic recovery and costing small businesses £5 billion a year, the LGA which represents 370 councils across England & Wales said.”
    ” for every £1 reduction in road maintenance there is a cost of £1.50 to the wider economy”

    Councillor Peter Box, Chair of LGA’s Economy and Transport Board said the case for proper funding to resurface our roads is a “no-brainer”.

    The case for This new road, just does not stand up and does not deserve anyone’s support. Anyone who knew the valley before will know we are loosing more than we are gaining.

    Comment by Anthony Bradnum — Thursday, Feb 27, 2014 @ 21:36

  3. Anton Hack

    I agree Chris, sometimes things aren’t worth commenting on, even to rubbish them. However…….I would like to say, for the record, that there is already an alternative road route between Hastings and Bexhill – one which I have happily used several times. How many road options do you need to see before you realise that you can’t see the woods for the roads?

    Comment by Anton Hack — Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 @ 13:34

  4. Chris Cormack

    I have received a response from ESCC on some of the weather/flood aspects which was causing concern:
    “The route of the Link Road was chosen carefully in consultation with the public and statutory environmental bodies. The engineering and design have taken into account ground conditions.

    “While the landscape does offer challenges it was known that the Combe Valley area floods on an annual basis. As a result we have programmed works in the area to avoid the winter season in the known area of flood risk.

    “The design of the Link Road has been approved by the Environment Agency, which reviews the flood risk management of the scheme. The road levels have been designed to be higher than a one in 100 year flood event and include a provision for the impact of global warming. Earthworks to build the road to the required levels will start in the spring once the weather improves.

    “In addition to the raised road level the design for the scheme includes a number of flood attenuation ditches and ponds. These will provide holding areas for the flood waters. Also all the watercourses are crossed by clear span structures that allow for additional capacity for the rivers and streams in the event of flooding.”

    Further detail can be found in the flood risk assessment for the scheme which can be found online here: http://www.accesseastsussex.org/planningdocs/datawright%20saved%20documents/scannedinfo/rr2474cceia/floodrisk/fra%20report%20rev03%20escc%20format%2003-04-08.pdf

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:22

  5. Karl Horton

    This article is disappointing, and I’m not sure it adds anything new to the debate.

    The project engineer’s opinion may be the most informed opinion as he should be aware of what’s going on day to day. However there is a clear conflict of interest about what he says ‘on the record’ and what exactly is going on. His continued employment is probably linked to how well the project is going, there is a clear motive here for him to promote a positive report. It would have been good for you to put a question to him here such as ‘How have you coped with such adverse weather conditions?’ to inform your readership rather than unquestioning copying and pasting his words. It’s almost as if ESCC want to be able to say we’ve spent 40 million on the road so it would be a waste of money not to continue.

    The press release the article it is based on is a complete ‘non-story’. It would be of interest to say that we’re x months behind schedule, or x months ahead of schedule. To say that we’re currently on schedule is the equivalent of saying I’m doing my job to expectations. It’s not a news story.

    Glyne Gap station was recently removed from the Rother district plan so is less likely to happen.

    Freak weather will always cause the occasional closure of transport communications. Who is to say that the link road would also have been closed due to the flooding on this day had it existed? The current level of water in the valley is still very high.

    It would be good if you could follow up some of the points raised here and grill some of the people quoted in the article.

    Comment by Karl Horton — Monday, Feb 17, 2014 @ 13:43

  6. Chris Cormack

    Thank you for adding all your comments. I am not so naive as to express surprise as to the force of opinions that may be provoked by such an article, and I welcome your having that opportunity to express this in HOT.

    However I would like to comment on the “facts” and “opinions” expressed by me. My own opinion about the link road is already well known, but I genuinely intended the article to be informative rather than opinionated, and for this reason I stuck very close to the information laid out in ESCC and Rother Council releases. If the project engineer in charge of building the road says the project is on schedule to be finished by May 2015, yes that is his opinion, but it is the most informed opinion and useful guide we have on something that can not become fact until some time in the future. Similarly if the same engineer says that there will be “20 to 30 non-disruptive, short-duration, night-time closures on the rail-line in May and June” while the important parts of the bridge over the line are completed, I regard that as information rather than opinion or propaganda. The engineer is a professional and his reputation is tarnished if he fails to do what he says (or opines) will be the case.

    When Cllrs Maynard and Kentfield express their opinions on the situation, ie congestion on the A259 and job creation, I regard my function of reporting these opinions as informative not propaganda. These people are democratically elected representatives with direct powers in relation to Combe Haven and A259 developments. Therefore, even if you disagree strongly with their opinions, it is important that you understand what they are, in order that they can be held democratically accountable when they next go to the polls. I note that little comment was made on the opportunity to express your opinions about bus-lanes on the A259 – a chance maybe to press harder for a station at Glyne Gap?

    I slipped one single opinion of my own through on the link road, but nobody chose to comment on that, even to rubbish it. I note that the A259 is presently the only direct route from Hastings to Bexhill. Two weeks ago, the A259 and the Hastings Bexhill rail link were closed simultaneously by the storm; even the cycle route was closed by storm damage. Given that Bexhill was effectively cut off from Hastings I opined that it would have been good to have had the link road in these circumstances.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 @ 12:35

  7. Eva Cat

    Unusual to see so many online comments newspaper article, with all of them perfectly spelled, good grammar, and proper punctuation … you wouldn’t find that on the Daily Mail website …

    But in fairness to HOT, they have published many articles opposed to the link road, raising all the points above. Far more, in fact, than they have published in favour. While, as has been rightly pointed out, there are many people opposed to the link road, there are also many people in favour of it. By having articles both for and against the scheme (although mostly against), HOT IS demonstrating balance, and a significantly better standard of journalism than we see in much of the local and national press. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Eva Cat — Friday, Feb 14, 2014 @ 20:08

  8. Ian Spencer

    Do Councillors Maynard and Kentfield not read the same documents that we’ve seen? This road is one of the worst schemes in the country, judged on value for money. Complete madness. The claims for jobs have been vastly exaggerated.
    The people of East Sussex will be better served by a half decent, joined up public transport system, not more cars on the road. I actually think they think, we’re all thick.
    £113 million pounds for a few miles of road, built in a flood plain? The weather of the last few weeks shows what the future will bring with global warming. Thanking there is a growing body of people who are standing up and calling our elected politicians to account.

    Comment by Ian Spencer — Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 @ 20:43

  9. Ermie Gumweed

    I am disappointed that HOT has taken such a partisan view on the link road without establishing the facts. HOT is a useful alternative to the tripe that we normally have to read in the Observer and should, in my opinion, remain neutral on these matters if it wants to be taken seriously. The TV has been full of pictures over the last couple of months of houses that have been built on flood plains (like the area of Crowhurst on which houses are intneded to be built. Does the Chambers of Commerce really think that after the pasting it’s taken the Environment Agency will support housing on this flood plain that has flooded several times in the last century? I believe they’ll be taking a long look at this and more fool the people who buy houses on a flood plain after this winter’s warnings. Further, the modern offices and restaurant already built on Queensway are hardly full to the brim with entrepreneurs whose only barrier to opening a business in Hastings is the lack of modern offices. I wrote to Hastings Direct last year when they were quoted as saying that they would use new offices in Hastings and that they thought that the road was a benefit and they told me that this was completely untrue. The link road will only serve to build congestion and pollution in the area at the top of Queensway and the Ridge and anyone who thinks otherwise is naive in the extreme. If the road is such a marvellous concept why has there been such cover up, why so many lies and so much secrecy and why are the powers that be refusing to answer questions. I smell a big , stinking rat and hear the sound of pockets being lined…. Shame on you HOT for this poor standard of ‘reporting’.

    Comment by Ermie Gumweed — Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 @ 18:35

  10. Steve Thorpe

    I have just found your website and joined the email list. After reading this article I am wondering if I have made a mistake. The link road is an excuse for developers to make money and will just move the congestion from the Bexhill Road to Queensway and St Leonards. Companies will not come to Hastings until we have decent transport links to the rest of the country. £113m could be better spent on the rail links than on this vanity project.

    Comment by Steve Thorpe — Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 @ 17:23

  11. DAR

    Well, in the end we DO get alternative and opposing positions to this “Everybody’s happy nowadays” chunk of propag….sorry, journalism. Well done, respondents. All the reasons why this link road is no more than an expensive piece of environmental vandalism have been well stated by others here.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 @ 16:23

  12. Bea

    Building or “developing” on the outskirts of towns is the opposite of genuine growth for the towns because it creates a “doughnut” effect, ie leave the problems in the town centres and allow some of them to be abandoned and derelict while you build new stuff further away. This also generates a lot of new car traffic as people try to get to the “new” workplaces which have no public transport access. It also wrecks the countryside. This so-called “link road” is really a service road for the doughnut. And of course yet more ribbon development all along the coast as is already established west of Bexhill to Brighton and beyond. So the character of the place goes under and everything looks and feels the same (complete with the same old traffic fumes and noise).
    All of this is well understood by progressive planners who are focusing on improving inner cities and towns with mixed use developments. East Sussex – their new slogan should be “going backwards” (reversing along the “link road”?)

    Comment by Bea — Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 @ 11:28

  13. Chris Cormack

    Hi Wavy

    The clue is in my article (ie how the road will lead to jobs).

    Bexhill Enterprise Park provides up to 15,000 sq m of land near the new Bexhill to Hastings Link Road to be used for commercial units where people will work. The local chambers of commerce were successful in persuading the government inspector that, without such modern business accommodation, Hastings/Bexhill would not be in a position to attract future employers to the area, be they local firms wanting to expand, or investors from outside locating new business units here.

    The inspector was also convinced that alternative green- or brown-field sites were not available without their own set of problems regarding access and the need for new roads. To assume that the strategy devised in association with local businessmen through the chambers of commerce etc will fail is a counsel of despair and by this you condemn Hastings to permanent economic deprivation.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 23:19

  14. Wavy

    Well that went down well, but fair play to Chris Cormack for sticking his head above the parapet. In a way, I hope I’m wrong. I hope the road is a great success, I hope it brings prosperity to the area without messing up the valley, and I hope the 40% reduction in traffic along Bexhill Road does not mean that me an my Tracy can never pull away from the kerb, as is the case now when it is flowing freely (6.30 pm, say). Hopefully, the delays from the new bus schemes will be such a hindrance on traffic that we will get our slot. Carlos makes a brilliant point about the 40% reduction in traffic; will these people be walking to work now? It’s like eating garlic all day reduces your chances of dying from toe cancer by 40%… so my chances of dying from something else have just increased, because we are all going to die somehow. Still, like to keep cheery. There are lots of environmental arguments, all beautifully put by people here, but what I really do not understand HOW this road will lead to jobs, HOW this road will close the ozone hole, what is the mechanism? How does diverting people away from Bexhill Road create prosperity there? Explain it in terms of cause and effect, in steps. I can normally understand most simplish things given a bit of time and an explanation, stop telling me, and explain please.

    Comment by Wavy — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 22:51

  15. graham preston

    I wish there was an end to this rubbish about a 40% reduction in traffic. In fact it is about time ALL claims that this is about reducing traffic was dropped. The new road Starts at a blockage and goes to a blockage. Traffic running wither way will have to still take on Little common and its hold ups at the other end It will have to fight up the queensway to the ridge…to another blockage. It about time a few people were honest and that this is about making money turning cheep agricultural land in to prime development land. Only the whole of this area will never be any use to business until you can actually get here without major delays. The A21 is out of date and not fit for use, To the west the only good bit of road before Brighton is the Polegate bypass and to the west, Its mental until you reach Ashford. Now what if someone had, had the brain’s to re open the Crowhurst to West station line and have direct Rail Links to these new business zones and build in distribution centers? Na too sensible ! I would bet that when the new road opens there will still be the same amount of traffic on the A259, and that’s based on the fact I am a delivery driver, and if i want to go to where i am based I would be going out of my way to use the new road, just to go from Hastings to Bexhill !

    Comment by graham preston — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 18:47

  16. Carlos Allen

    So the traffic flow will decrease by 40% along Bexhill road? so does that mean it will increase by 40% up Queensway and the Ridge?
    Building thousands of houses and businesses in an already congested area, will surely add to the congestion on the local roads. So basically the link road will create more traffic along Bexhill road and all the other roads!
    Utter nonsensical madness, how blind are you to this?!

    Comment by Carlos Allen — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 17:58

  17. Jo blogs

    You know you ve lost the fight the link road is half built they will not stop building it now

    Comment by Jo blogs — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 17:54

  18. Jim

    Ironically the cause of excess flooding is thought to be climate change, caused in no small part by automobile use.

    So the link road, or ’causeway’ as it will no doubt be known, is helping to generate the very problems that are causing the delays.

    Having walked from Crowhurst to Hollington last week, past the zone of construction, I am skeptical that the contractors can get done on time, with out ‘taking a bath’ on the costs.

    Comment by Jim — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 17:39

  19. Mike Lincoln

    It is shear lunacy to continue building across floodplains, encouraging ever more car use and out of town retail development & office space. If this scheme was really needed why did it not happen when we were booming? Instead it is happening in a time of austerity and appears to be a desperate attempt at growth for growths sake – NOT because it is actually needed. There are better ways to spend my money which would genuinely benefit our local community, improve public transport, create long-term sustainable jobs (rather than short term construction jobs) in sectors which improve quality of life for the benefit of humans and our environment. This road scheme will do neither of these things and has destroyed a beautiful area forever. Shame on greedy, short-sighted politicians who suck up to the vested interests of big business and do not care less about long term sustainability.

    Comment by Mike Lincoln — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 17:24

  20. Louise Smelt

    Very sad to see the proposed Bexhill ‘Enterprise’ centre being granted planning at Glovers. This site would be perfect for something genuinely enterprising. Such as a Community run City Farm with educational facilitates, community food growing, a veg box scheme and somewhere for the people of Sidley, Hastings and Bexhill to connect with the landscape, access the Combe Valley and be part of positive development in the area. So much money has been spent in the area to try and tackle health and well being and social exclusion issues and this could be a great integrated and sustainable way to deal with so many of them.

    Comment by Louise Smelt — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 15:57

  21. Richard Paine

    Hmm. Article straight from Taylor Hochtief’s publicity department, with collaboration of local authorities. Well researched then.

    Flooding problems ignored by authorities. Hastings and Bulverhythe’s residents, also Bexhill Road (A259) sacrificed for Link Road and subsequent developments in adjoining Bexhill.

    Prolonged, and increasingly high tides, in conjunction with high rain fall spells disaster from flooding of the Combe stream at Bulverhythe. The increase of proposed hard areas: Roads,car parks, developments. Equals the decrease in impervious ground. Run-off far quicker than rain fall on the soil and farmland soon to be built on.

    A proposed lake soon to be constructed at Crowhurst, adjacent to Powder Mill stream. Water table a few inches bellow ground level. Will be full to capacity most of the year, albeit in drought conditions. Designed to collect and store water before discharging into the Powder Mill stream, Combe Stream then under A259 through residential area Bulverhythe; discharging itself into the sea.

    Comment by Richard Paine — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 15:52

  22. Andrea Needham

    ‘Road to prosperity?’ This road is costing us, the public, a minimum of £113m, and very likely much more by the time it’s finished. It is ‘low’ value for money, meaning that the benefit:cost ratio is between 1 and 1.5. Contrast this with government flood defence schemes, which have a BCR of 8.

    The Department for Transport said that East Sussex County Council had ‘significantly overstated’ the benefits of the scheme and that the likely number of jobs to be created would be around 900, of which 40% would go to people outside the area – compare this with ESCC’s repeated claim that the scheme will create 3000, or even 3500, jobs.

    Building warehouses, and hoping businesses will move in and fill them, is not a job creation scheme. And let’s not forget that the ‘developer’ of these fantastic schemes is SeaChange, which also ‘developed’ Lacuna Place in Hastings, and the ‘Enviro 21’ business park on Queensway. Both are now in receivership.

    I can’t begin to get to grips with everything that’s wrong with this piece of ‘journalism’, which is essentially reproducing, uncritically, a press release from the county council. Since when was HOT the PR arm of East Sussex County Council?

    Comment by Andrea Needham — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 12:05

  23. Dave Wood

    That valley is awash!
    Does the project manager really believe the link road will be delivered on time – and on £113m budget?
    I think not!

    Comment by Dave Wood — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 11:18

  24. Anton

    It’s a terrible shame that such high-risk, egotistical, destructive fantasies like this expensive project couldn’t have been carried out without so much environmental damage. What a trite article this is. There is so much spin on this page that I feel dizzy after reading it. I will leave it to the Link Road project manager to hoist himself with his own petard: ‘We know the valleys flood at this time of year and there’s always likely to be plenty of rain.’ So why invest in this white elephant then?

    Comment by Anton — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:48

  25. fritz catlin

    The victorians knew enough to build the railway over this floodplain on a tall viaduct, but more importantly those who support further destruction of wildlife habitats so human economic “growth” can continue when we know we are the cause of the 6th Great Extinction event on this planet will be remembered in the same way as the nazis in another generation or two.

    Comment by fritz catlin — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:44

  26. Gaby

    Is this meant to be balanced reporting? What is the point of this article? The piece would be more suitable for your personal blog or a “comment” column.

    There are many people locally who disagree with the views expressed in your article and you have failed to even acknowledge the fact that there are differing opinions.

    Who is interested in your personal opinion? I know I’m not.

    Comment by Gaby — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:35

  27. Gabriel Carlyle

    Thank goodness you haven’t just uncritically regurgitated the road builders claims as fact. Oh, but hold on minute, you have – almost exactly the same quotes appear in this week’s Hastings Observer.

    As for the reference to the floods in the opening paragraph, the following facts would appear to be significant:

    (1) Road transport accounts currently accounts for around 22% of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

    (2) More roads, locking more people into car dependency, means more traffic, more greenhouse gas emissions and more global warming.

    (3) Climate change ‘is likely to be a factor in the extreme weather that has hit much of the UK in recent months’, according to the Met Office’s chief scientist: “all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change”. Furthermore, “[t]here is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26084625)

    Moreover, unlike aviation and shipping, there are no current technical, financial or organisational obstacles to the UK’s road transport system becoming zero carbon by 2050.

    Indeed, this could be accomplished through a combination of spatial (eg. compact city design), fiscal (eg. re-establishing the Fuel Price Escalator) and behavioural measures (eg. reducing the motorway speed limit to 60mph) to radically reduce car use, combined with a shift to electric vehicles (‘Towards a Zero Carbon Vision for UK Transport’, July 2010, Stockholm Environment Institute, http://www.sei-international.org/publications?pid=1575)

    The last Government’s ‘Sustainable Travel Towns’ initiative (a five-year project in Darlington, Worcester, and Peterborough, costing £10m) had a profound effect on people’s transport choices eg. in Darlington the number of car trips dropped by 10%, while bus trips increased by 11% and cycling trips per person increased by 113%.

    In summary, we need a sustainable transport system, not this £113m white-elephant road across Combe Haven.

    Comment by Gabriel Carlyle — Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:32

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