The plan to remove most parking spaces in Uckfield High Street is being ‘very actively reviewed’ after town voters vetoed the scheme.
The proposal came as a surprise to many townspeople and traders although Regeneration Committee members pointed out parking, traffic management and pedestrian safety had been highlighted during an early consultation.
But some shopkeepers said they could not continue to remain open if spaces are removed and they fear the decision could force many people to drive to more accessible centres.
In a vote earlier this month, 85 per cent of people taking part opposed the scheme.
And the Committee has now agreed to listen to their views as the schemes’s second stage approaches.
Nigel Hannam, project board member and Wealden Council director of environment and community services said: “We are working hard to do what is best for the town centre, to ensure it remains a flourishing and vibrant hub.
“It is encouraging that people took time to be involved in the poll.
“We now have to complete the final designs ensuring a balance betwen parking in the High Street, accommodating pedestrians and easing traffic congestion which would only get considerably worse with new housing developments planned.
“We also need to make Uckfield town centre a more attractive place for residents, shoppers and traders.”
The next stage of work involves the High Street betwen Bell Lane and Church Street.
In the meantime Wealden District Councillor Michael Lunn has challenged what he says are the traffic figures used to justify the High Street changes.
At a meeting on Monday he says figures from April last year came from a 12-hour, two-way traffic count and had been added together to make the 28,000 movements quoted.
And he said the committee’s peak time figures showing High Street congestion and traffic queues were consequently innaccurate.
He also asked why the committee could not accept and act on findings of the parking vote.
Committee chairman Cllr Mick Harker refuted both, accusing Cllr Lunn as speaking ‘mumbo jumbo’ and describing how the legal status of the poll meant the outcome could only be ‘advisory.’
He said anyone driving down Uckfield High Street could witness heavy congestion for themselves but also asked for Cllr Lunn’s figures so they could be investigated.
Traders accept there could be a slight reduction in on-street parking but fear a total ban will trigger the non-renewal of shop leases and subsequent High Street ‘dead teeth.’
New ‘smart’ traffic lights to monitor and control traffic flow. Safer High Street pedestrian crossing points. Footpaths widened and hazards removed.
Street scene improved with new benches, waste bins and bike stands.
Environment enhanced with trees.
Luxford Field and Regency Close South and North car parks better managed and still free to use.
New low energy street lights to deliver less light pollution.
Real time passenger information at bus stops. A 20mph High Street and Church Street speed limit.