Updated: Bexhill-Hastings Link Road ready for traffic
After three years of work - and seven months later than planned - the Hastings-Behxill Link Road will finally open tomorrow (Thursday, December 17).
Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, proudly announced to an assortment of invited VIPs and journalists, that the route will be opening to traffic sometime between 10am and 2pm.
The Link Road, to be known as the Combe Valley Way, stretches three-and-a-half miles and as well as improving transport links between the two towns, the council expects the road to bring in around £1 billion of investment, with the creation of 2,000 new homes, 3,000 new jobs and the development of business space.
The Link Road was scheduled to open in May this year, but in December 2014 the council blamed wet weather and unexpcted archaeological finds for hampering work on the £120m project.
Anti-road protestors, known as the Combe Haven Defenders, have done their best to throw a spanner in the works, with protestors taking to the treetops in protest when the work commenced in December 2012.
And the Combe Haven Defenders showed they were not planning on going quietly, with around eight members brandishing placards and banners blocking coaches hired to take guests along the stretch of road from Queensway in St Leonards to Wrestwood Road, Bexhill.
The official opening announcement took place this morning at Glovers House, a 25,235 sq ft business centre developed as a larger enterprise park in Bexhill.
Park Holidays moved around 90 members of staff into Glovers House, developed by Sea Change Sussex, earlier this month.
Addressing the guests and media, Cllr Glazier said: “This is the result of many years of hard work to improve the lives of many people in East Sussex.
“When the Combe Valley Way opens, it’s not just about relieving the traffic on the A259.
“It’s about opening the land for new homes and creating new jobs.”
Cllr Glazier thanked all those who worked together to see the project to fruition, including Peter Jones, the previous leader of East Sussex County Council.
Although protestors argue the road will have an overwhelmingly negative affect on the environment, Cllr Glazier maintains he is “proud” of the work done to minimise the impact on local wildlife, including building new habitats for badgers, newts, dormice, bats and owls.
Cllr Glazier told the Observer: “I’m genuinely proud of the amount of environmental work we have done.
“We have got badger fences, badger hotels, provisions for bats and we have planted 108,000 trees.
“There has been an enormous amount of environmental work.”
Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said he was “delighted” that the Link Road was to open - but admitted there was still work to do.
He told the Observer: “There is still some work to do in terms of the greenway and some more planting.
“But I am delighted I’m able to say the road is opening.”
A major tree and shrub planting programme is underway while new ‘greenways’ for walkers, cyclists and horse riders will be completed next year.
The new road will host a new bus route, operated by Stagecoach, which will link Hastings and Bexhill with the new business park via the Link Road.
Meanwhile in a statement released to the media, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “This new south coast link will end years of frustration for local people, providing far quicker journeys across the region and unlocking ambitious development plans.
“This road is further evidence of this government’s commitment to improving the UK’s transport infrastructure, creating opportunities for the development of new homes, business and jobs.
“The communities of Bexhill and Hastings have waited a long time for this day and now they have an improved road network to help them get around and get on.”
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