Major Haywards Heath route closure will be ‘devastating’ says business owners

A group of small businesses in Haywards Heath say they would be ‘seriously threatened’ if a major traffic route is closed.

Developer Redrow wants to close Balcombe Road, Borde Hill Lane and Hanlye Lane for three months for road improvements as part of the Penlands Green development.

Concerned business owners at Borde Hill Garden, Haywards Heath. Photo by Steve Robards

Concerned business owners at Borde Hill Garden, Haywards Heath. Photo by Steve Robards

Jeremy Ashpool, of Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill Garden, Borde Hill Lane, said the effect on his business would be ‘devastating’.

“It could push us to the verge of bankruptcy,” he said.

“We have spent 18 years building a business here and we have survived a recession, snow, and power cuts, but this is the biggest single threat. It is devastating.”

Outline permission for 210 homes at Penland Farm was granted on appeal by a planning inspector back in January 2015.

We have spent 18 years building a business here and we have survived a recession, snow, and power cuts, but this is the biggest single threat. It is devastating.

Jeremy Ashpool, of Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill Garden

Final details of the housing scheme were then approved by Mid Sussex District Council in December 2016. A new roundabout was included in the scheme.

This week, Mark Becker, technical director for Redrow, said the closure of the route was needed to deliver the new roundabout ‘as efficiently as possible’.

He added: “We will be sharing the community feedback we receive in response to the road closure with the county council for their consideration.

“We will continue to keep the local community informed, and will be in touch before the works commence in March 2019. Once complete the roundabout will improve the current junction arrangement.”

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Jill Housby and Samantha Phillips, of The Green Tree Gallery at Borde Hill Garden, Balcombe Road, said their concerns have been ‘completely ignored’.

They added: “The closure will inevitably result in traffic chaos and will hugely impact the day-to-day lives of the many thousands of people who live or work in Haywards Heath and the surrounding villages.

“We are 14 small businesses, the survival of which would be seriously threatened by the consequences of such a closure.”

The pair said the majority of the businesses rely on regular, high frequency visits from customers.

They said the evidence of previous road closures had shown that customers trying to fit visits into their daily routine simply would not make the effort if there was a major disruption to their journey.

The businesses at Borde Hill Garden have put their concerns to Redrow. They are urging a revised plan which is ‘less damaging’.

Redrow’s Mr Becker said: “Our ongoing contact with the local community has been made in advance of our formal requirement to carry out a notification of our application to close the junction where Balcombe Road, Borde Hill and Hanlye Lane intersect.

“We have made this early contact in recognition of the disruption closing the road will cause. We will be carrying out enabling works in advance of the closure, which has already reduced the overall construction time from five to three months.

“We are in the process of speaking to our closest neighbours, including local businesses, and are continuing to explore other options to minimise the impact on residents and business owners.

“We will also be keeping the wider community informed and are in the process of responding to the comments we have received. Once complete the roundabout will improve the current junction arrangement and benefit motorists and pedestrians.”