A major new gateway road scheme has been given the green light, much to the fury of environmental campaigners.
There were shouts of anger from objectors in the public gallery at a meeting on Wednesday (February 4) as Sea Change Sussex was given unanimous approval by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to build the new road linking Sedlescombe Road North with Queensway in St Leonards.
Called the Queensway Gateway Road (QGR) the plans include three roundabouts on a route that could take traffic from the busy A21 to the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.
Sea Change believes the scheme will attract hundreds of jobs to the town. But ahead of Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, hundreds of objectors wrote to the council criticising the plans.
Dr Judy Clark, speaking on behalf of objectors, said: “The application neither establishes that there is an immediate local need for the development nor adequately establishes its full impacts, and their significance, on the nature conservation interest of Hollington Valley Local Wildlife Site. The Queensway Gateway, and I quote, ‘is being constructed with the purpose of allowing land to be released around the road for employment use’. The current need for these employment facilities must be firmly established. There is plenty of employment space already in the pipeline and no adequate evidence of a current need for more employment land has been provided.”
Objectors also fear the scheme will increase traffic congestion, noise and pollution, will lead to a loss of informal amenity/recreation space,as well as contamination of local watercourses.
John Shaw, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sea Change Sussex, said the application was ‘extremely time;y’ considering the impending opening of the link road.
He said: “The scheme will provide better access for jobs for local people, as well as provide access to employment spaces for Hastings and Rother. We are proposing appropriate drainage to protect the local area, as well new habitats for the wetlands and protected animal species.”
Councillor Michael Edwards said: “I know about the daily frustration of sitting in traffic jams along The Ridge, which is in a state of gridlock for the large part of every day.
“Everyone who you speak to would say something has to be done and here we have an example of something being done. The proposal that has been given to us here is about as good as it can get. Unfortunately the scheme does go through some green space but the imperative is to get the roads in place and get traffic moving.”