West Sussex County Council is now finalising its plans to upgrade the A2300 linking Burgess Hill to the A23 into a dual carriageway.
As an organisation we have no problem with the principle of the upgrade. We are however, angry that the council is blatantly subordinating the needs and safety of pedestrians and cyclists in this exercise, thus discouraging those wishing to use healthier and more sustainable ways of getting around.
The government’s planning rules dictate that developments of this kind must ‘give priority first to pedestrian and cycle movements both within the scheme and with neighbouring areas’.
WSCC appears determined to give short shrift to this requirement. Their plan rejects current best practice design standards that govern both the width of what will have to be a shared pedestrian and cyclist path, and their safety at roundabouts. The proposed plan will also make it very difficult for people to cross to the south side of what will become a 70mph dual carriage way.
The council’s excuse is that necessary safety and ease of access features for non-motorists will harm the business case for the road and put its funding in jeopardy. A business case that, for the sake of economics, brushes aside the safety and wellbeing of people who chose to walk or cycle, and that ignores the government’s direction to put their interests first, is a flawed and unsustainable case.
There is still time for a change of heart within the council as they finalise the details of their plan. We would urge all readers who share our concern to ensure that this road upgrade better balances the convenience of motorists and businesses against the safety and wellbeing of others in a sustainable manner to make their views known to the Highways Dept of West Sussex CC. As matters stand, the council has got its priorities wrong.
On behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England,
Sussex Branch CIO,
In response, a West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “These are proposals for more than £20million worth of highway improvements, which will ease congestion on the A2300 corridor and bring key economic benefits to Burgess Hill and the surrounding area. Facilities for both pedestrians and cyclists will be improved, with a new footway/cycleway provided along the northern verge between the proposed Northern Arc site access roundabout and the A23/A2300 interchange and the National Cycle Network.
The proposals were put on public display for comment in the autumn and we welcomed the feedback and will try to adjust the plans to accommodate as many of the suggestions as possible. However, it has to be remembered that there is a finite amount of funding available within a short timescale.”