New bus lanes and a 20mph zone for Eastbourne will help transform a ‘tired town centre’ into a ‘modern and dynamic area’, according to county councillors.
The £7m Eastbourne Town Centre Improvement Scheme will see bus lanes created in Gildredge Road and Terminus Road, allowing the pavements in the latter to be widened.
Meanwhile a 20mph zone will cover both roads as well as Cornfield Road, Station Street, Hyde Gardens, Mark Lane, Connaught Road, Lushington Lane and Lushington Road.
A raft of other waiting and parking restrictions are also set to be introduced.
A consultation on the joint East Sussex County Council and Eastbourne Borough Council proposals was held late last year.
Four letters were received in support and 24 objections.
Residents raised concerns about the bus lane on the western side of Gildredge Road and the loss of on-street parking, the new 20mph zone, and the placement of bus stops in Cornfield Road and South Street.
The county council’s Planning Committee agreed not to uphold objections to a draft traffic regulation order for the changes last Wednesday (February 14).
Officers described how the package of measures aimed to improve access and movement within Eastbourne town centre as well as stimulating economic growth.
The widened pavements in Terminus Road will use ‘high quality materials throughout’ and will have extra space for soft landscaping and street furniture.
The bus lane in Gildredge Road ensures public transport remains in the town centre, while the 20mph zone is expected to lead to a more welcoming environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
Pat Rodohan (LDem, Eastbourne - Upperton) said: “This is part of the expansion of the Arndale Centre or the Beacon Centre, which is critical to the economic growth of Eastbourne and it will transform a tired town centre which is congested and car centric into a modern and dynamic area with open spaces that will be attractive to everyone not just shoppers.
“It will be a magnet to bring people into the area.”
He added: “There’s no perfect scheme because Eastbourne, wonderful as it is, was built in a different era.”
Christina Ewbank, speaking for Eastbourne’s chamber of commerce, described how they hoped to make pedestrians ‘comfortable walking around the town centre’ especially given the investment in the Arndale Centre.
She explained: “We want to stop the Arndale Centre sucking the life out of the rest of Eastbourne by making the environment around the Arndale Centre as attractive as the new Arndale Centre will be.”
But Matt Briggs, who has worked at the Specsavers store in Terminus Road since 1991, described how the recent temporary relocation of bus stops to Gildredge Road had led to a significant fall in trade.
He raised concerns that moving bus stops further away from the new shopping centre would not be good for businesses, residents, or users.
However, Barry Taylor (Con, Eastbourne - Meads) said he was ‘excited’ by the scheme.
He added: “Once the scheme is finished and it looks really good I think that trade will come back and people will be encouraged to come into Eastbourne.”
In a statement read out during the meeting on his behalf, David Elkin (Con, Eastbourne - Sovereign), who sits on the project board, said: “Change is always difficult and it’s impossible to dispel everyone’s concerns.
“However, I’m convinced what you have before you today is as close as we are going to get.”
David Tutt (LDem, Eastbourne - St Anthony’s), who is leader of the borough council, was also said to be in favour of the changes.
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