Billions of pounds of improvements for Sussex sought by Transport for South East's new strategic investment plan

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A ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for billions of pounds of transport improvements across Sussex and the wider region has been sent to central government.

Transport for the South East’s partnership board has given its approval to progress delivery of a 27-year Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) which includes nearly 300 multi-modal interventions.

The plan sets out a vision for the region, with priorities to decarbonise the transport system, level up left behind communities and facilitate sustainable economic growth in the south east between now and 2050.

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It forecasts a total capital cost of over £45 billion over 27 years and interventions that once implemented could generate; 21,000 new jobs, an additional £4 billion growth in GVA each year by 2050, 1.4 mega tonnes less CO2 equivalent emitted, 500,000 more rail trips a day, 1.5 million more trips taken by bus, mass transit and ferry, and take roughly 4 million car trips a day off the South East’s roads.

Rupert Clubb, Geoff French, Vince Lucas, Cllr Gary Hackwell, Cllr Phil Jordan, Cllr Keith Glazier, Cllr Elaine Hills, Cllr Matt Furniss, Cllr Joy Dennis, Cllr David Monk, Dan Ruiz.Rupert Clubb, Geoff French, Vince Lucas, Cllr Gary Hackwell, Cllr Phil Jordan, Cllr Keith Glazier, Cllr Elaine Hills, Cllr Matt Furniss, Cllr Joy Dennis, Cllr David Monk, Dan Ruiz.
Rupert Clubb, Geoff French, Vince Lucas, Cllr Gary Hackwell, Cllr Phil Jordan, Cllr Keith Glazier, Cllr Elaine Hills, Cllr Matt Furniss, Cllr Joy Dennis, Cllr David Monk, Dan Ruiz.

While £45 billion is a significant sum of money, TfSE says it isn’t dissimilar to the levels of historical investment in the South East over a similar time period. Not only does the plan identify the investment needed to transform the economy in the South East, it also recognises the financial constraints faced by the bodies that would traditionally fund these sorts of interventions.

Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: “This evidence based investment is a once in a generation opportunity to set out a sustainable transport network that recognises the importance of major transport corridors across the South East. Corridors that are fundamental to our economy and our communities.

“This plan is the result of five years of partnership working, it truly is a plan developed by the South East, for the South East.

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“Following approval by our partnership board we have submitted the plan to the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport with a request for it to be considered as future investment decisions are made.

“We could not be more grateful for the insight, support and challenge shown by our partners, and the Department for Transport in the development of this plan.”

Transport for the South East’s partnership board brings together elected members from local transport authorities, district and borough authorities, representatives of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), protected landscapes, National Highways, Network Rail, and more.

Throughout the development of the investment plan, Transport for the South East held regular stakeholder meetings to gather evidence and seek input. They also held a 12-week public consultation on the plan in the summer of 2022 asking for comments from anyone who lives, works or travels within the region, receiving more than 600 responses.

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Prior to approval at the partnership board, local transport authorities within the region also had the opportunity to present the investment plan to their own council members to secure sign off.

Transport for the South East’s investment plan promises to not only deliver economic benefits to the region but to also make a material contribution towards net zero carbon. It supports a reduction in the need to travel by encouraging integrated planning and a shift to more sustainable modes of travel for both passengers and freight.

It recognises the importance of accessible, affordable, integrated, reliable and attractive public transport, that is fit for purpose and have ensured it is at the core of the Strategic Investment Plan. The transport body promises to work with local authorities and operators to provide better-connected and accessible multi-modal journeys with users easily able to walk, wheel or cycle for the first and last miles of their journeys.

Following approval Transport for the South East’s attention now turns to delivery. It says it will continue to work with partners from across the region to develop a delivery action plan, setting out the current position of each of the nearly 300 proposed multi-modal schemes within the investment plan. The action plan will focus on the next three years, 2023-2026, and detail what the next steps are and confirm the roles and responsibilities of Transport for the South East and its delivery partners required to make this plan a reality.

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As well as Sussex, the plan covers Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Kent and the Isle of Wight.

Proposed rail improvements include a strategic study for the West Coastway, faster services for both the East Coastway and Arun Valley lines, a new station to the north-east of Horsham, electrification of the Uckfield Branch line, reopening the Lewes to Uckfield Wealden line and High Speed 1 / Marsh Link – Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne upgrade.

Upgrades are also listed to the A27 at Arundel, Worthing and Lancing, East of Lewes, Lewes to Polegate, Worthing (long term), Chichester, Tangmere junction, Fontwell junction, Hangleton junction, Devils Dyke junction, Hollingbury junction and Falmer junction; the A259 at Bognor Regis to Littlehampton, Chichester to Bognor Regis, Level Crossing Removals – East of Rye, South Coast Road Corridor – Eastbourne to Brighton; A29 realignment; A22 corridor between Uckfield and Hailsham and Uckfield bypass dualling; A264 Horsham to Pease Pottage and Crawley Western Link Road, A23 Gatwick to Crawley as well as Hickstead and Bolney junctions; A24 Horsham to Washington and Horsham to Dorking; A26 Lewes – Newhaven realignment and Lewes – Uckfield; A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst & Dualling and Flimwell and Hurst Green Bypasses; and Hastings and Bexhill distributor roads.

A number of areas have interventions such as active travel infrastructure, mobility hubs, mass rapid transit systems, fastways and rural bus corridor enhancements.