Prevent the full closure of Balcombe Road to Borde Hill Businesses.
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(Photo courtesy of Mid Sussex Times)
Borde Hill Businesses: closure of Balcombe Road, Hanlye Lane and Borde Hill Lane as part of Penlands Farm development.
You will probably be aware that the developer Redrow Homes is proposing to West Sussex County Council, as local highways authority, that in order to build a new roundabout at the junction of Balcombe Road, Hanlye Lane and Borde Hill Lane those three roads should be closed for some 12 weeks from 22 June this year.
The various independent businesses who operate from within the Borde Hill Estate are greatly concerned about the intended road closure. Redrow are pressing the County Council for full rather than a traffic-controlled partial closure on the ground that the construction works will thereby be expedited. They have failed, however, to demonstrate what other solutions they have investigated and evaluated, and how they have assessed the impact on local businesses, residents and road users.
This closure will have a catastrophic impact on the activities of each of the businesses affected. Not only will access by customers and suppliers be impeded, which will affect the businesses’ income, but there will be significant consequences for the businesses’ employees, both in the shorter term and quite possibly in the longer term, in the event that the loss of custom renders some of the businesses economically unviable. Not only this, but emergency vehicles will be forced to make unacceptable detours to reach certain local areas almost certainly resulting in tragic consequences.
Against this backcloth we are most concerned that Mid Sussex District Council, not as planning authority (those decisions having already been made) but as local economic development authority, with a range of statutory obligations, now seeks to make urgent representations to the County Council to ensure that the 12 week closure is handled in a sensitive manner which mitigates the damage to the 14 businesses. In the first instance the decision to make a traffic order should be taken at elected member level and not left as an officer delegation (given the clear sensitivities attached to it): elected members should understand the genuine concerns of the businesses and the significant consequences which will be visited upon them. And secondly, the County Council should then ensure that Redrow provide them with detailed data underpinning, and the analysis of, the closure options, especially as to the safety and appropriateness of the alternative routes. Although London Lane in Cuckfield has been the subject of road improvement works those works widened the footpath and further narrowed the vehicular carriageway, making access for greater volumes of traffic more hazardous. The second route, via Copyhold Lane, is demonstrably unsafe given its physical configuration: its narrowness, especially at the point of a single track rail overbridge, its winding and undulating nature, and the road’s unevenness which makes parts of it prone to flooding.
In summary, the businesses accept that the roundabout construction works are a necessary part of the housing development, but believe that those works can be achieved by a series of partial closures designed to fit in with the construction programme. At the end of the day a developer seeking to reduce its costs should not be allowed to do so at the expense of others who will have to bear a disproportionate financial and human burden.
As of the 10th January Redrow wrote to local residents saying that closure dates have been agreed with the County Council. Clearly the formal application is imminent and it is essential that steps to put the process on hold need to be taken without delay. We ask, please, for your urgent help in this matter so that businesses, livelihoods, jobs and the safety of this part of Mid Sussex can be protected.
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