It is cavalier of developers Redrow to assert in their circular letter to residents that construction of a new roundabout on the Balcombe Road requires closure of local roads, that the works (and their manner of execution) are ‘necessary’, and that the county council has ‘instructed’ the company to effect this change.
At the end of the day the county council as highway authority will need to consider the appropriateness of road closure orders before they are made.
Closure is a last resort; it is not contingent on the planning consent; and full closure must be demonstrably necessary.
The developer’s concern to reduce the length of the construction contract (and presumably save costs) has to be weighed against:
- the suitability – or otherwise – of the diversion routes, especially at Copyhold Lane to the north of Borde Hill (narrow and winding) and London Lane in Cuckfield (narrow and congested)
- the consequence for the emergency services (including increased journey times) who need access to the affected routes and the properties abutting them
- the absence of any plausible argument that full closure is required for reasons of public safety
- the significant inconvenience and delays which will be experienced by people travelling to work, school or medical appointments
- the major economic impact on businesses – especially the independent businesses located on the Borde Hill estate – which will suffer disproportionate financial losses through the inability of their clientele to access their services for a sustained period, and
- the ability of other developers to construct major roundabouts by stages, such as the Fox Hill/relief road interchange to the south of the town, without causing insurmountable disruption.
As Jeremy Ashpool understandably fears (article Major route closure will be ‘devastating’, November 8) this projected closure could push his established and valued restaurant business (and other businesses in the locality) to the verge of bankruptcy at a time when this country so desperately needs entrepreneurial people who work hard to provide employment, generate tax revenue, and add to the well-being and vitality of their community.