Fears Hailsham town centre improvement plans could lead to rat-running ‘chaos’

Hailsham town centre improvement scheme
Hailsham town centre improvement scheme

Improvements to Hailsham town centre could lead to rat-running ‘chaos’, one councillor has warned.

Proposals for wider pavements in the high street and some of the surrounding roads, new bays for blue badge holders, loading and short term parking, changes to both Vicarage Road and Vicarage Lane to one way streets, and new traffic light crossings were all agreed by East Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday.

Members voted not to uphold objections to the proposed new Traffic Regulation Order, but Laurence Keeley, one of two county councillors for Hailsham, suggested the changes could lead to drivers using other routes through the town to avoid the high street.

He said: “I think we ought to think again. The rat runs are a big big issue and I think we could see chaos.”

He also raised concerns at a lack of enforcement of current and future parking restrictions as said this would ‘continue to be a joke’.

Given the amount of further housebuilding in and around the area Cllr Keeley suggested a new ring road along the eastern side of Hailsham might be a solution to traffic problems.

But Godfrey Daniel, chair of the committee, said they were not there to redesign schemes, but to decide if objections should be upheld or not.

Bill Bentley, the other councillor representing Hailsham, stated his support for the present scheme in a statement read out during the committee meeting.

Roy Galley explained that the proposals were a response to the existing local plan for Wealden and assumed the present scheme was funded from developer contributions from houses either already built or under construction.

He said the idea was to enhance the retail offering of Hailsham and thought they would struggle to find a better scheme to do this.

Officers said the scheme aimed to enhance the economic vitality of the town centre by improving conditions for pedestrians, loading for businesses, and access to shops.

Objectors raised a possible increase of parking in residential areas, the insufficient number of spaces in the existing car park next to the leisure centre, and the longer vehicle trip times for residents in Marshfoot Lane due to the new one-way systems on Vicarage Road and Vicarage Lane.

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