Full closure for three months of the ‘major route’ into Haywards Heath from Balcombe and Cuckfield next summer is not - as some councillors seem to think - the ‘least worst option’ available to the housing developers Redrow (article ‘Road closures for roundabout works’, June 6).
The least worst option is to construct the new roundabout at the Balcombe Road/Hanlye Lane junction as a phased operation, with partial closure and signalled traffic flow.
No-one has produced for public scrutiny an impact assessment or feasibility study demonstrating the economic, engineering and traffic management consequences of the options which, presumably, have been identified and evaluated both by the developer and West Sussex County Council as highways authority.
As has been said in your pages previously, some 14 businesses located on the Borde Hill Estate (and their employees) will be adversely affected in a serious manner, and a stay of execution will not, as Councillor Bradbury seems to think, give them or local residents, time ‘to get ready for the disruption’.
The adverse impact of full - and unnecessary - closure now or later cannot be mitigated.
In the same issue of your paper you carry a pertinent article relating to London Lane in Cuckfield (‘Road closure planned for six-week footpath upgrade’).
London Lane would become the designated diversion route for traffic once Hanlye Lane is truncated next summer. Clearly steps need to be taken to make pedestrian access safer, especially given London Lane’s proximity to a primary school.
But the effect of the works will be, as West Sussex admit, to create a ‘reduced road width’ which, of itself, will impede vehicle movements on a lane which is presently narrow (with a tight bend at the eastern end) and unsuitable for heavy vehicular traffic.
Increased traffic will also exacerbate the vibration and pollution levels experienced by residents of abutting homes.
At the other end of the Balcombe Road/Borde Hill Lane closure nothing can be done to mitigate the effect of increased traffic which inevitably will rat-run along Copyhold Lane. That lane is narrow, undulating and winding, and is accessed via a single track bridge across the main railway line. The road is demonstrably unsuitable for the nature and volumes of traffic which would impact upon it.
To this end, therefore, both the developers and the local authorities need urgently to return to the drawing board and devise a scheme whereby the new roundabout works can be undertaken with partial and light-controlled closure.
Of course road users - such as myself - will experience some delays, but that is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and continuing viability of the Borde Hill businesses (whom Mid Sussex District Council has a duty to protect given its economic development function) and the availability of a route for emergency and other services who have a genuine need to access lives and properties in the vicinity.
The bottom line here is: people and their livelihoods before developers and their profits.