BHLR – Local Transport Plan 3 – Campaign Pointers for 2016 – A Range of Measures
The opening of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road took place in late December – precisely 7 years after the initial date predicted by East Sussex County Council (ESCC), and at £120.8 million, exactly five times the originally estimated 2002 costs of £24m. The costs may yet rise further. The real reasons for the delay are explained in our previous post (scroll down to read). The original 2004 timetable for delivering the completed BHLR shows as December 2008 the road ‘open to traffic’ . (see bhlr-tt-2004-rt-size-2 ) From the word ‘go’ in 2004, the public consultation document offered only road schemes, despite being titled ‘Future Travel Options’. (bhlr-consultation-2004) The conditional approval for the BHLR in that year required close cooperation with government’s own statutory conservation bodies – English Heritage, Natural England, Environment Agency. Nearly three years later all objected (two formally) to the BHLR at the planning application stage. It also required that contributions were sought from the private sector. None ever came. The costs were required to remain unchanged: they didn’t; and ‘value for money’ assessment by the Department for Transport ended dramatically at ‘poor/medium’. It stays a speculative and risky scheme that materially affects future travel and development patterns. We have to campaign in this new environment.
The stories behind the March 2012 green light from Chancellor Osborne to fund the road must continue to be told as a warning and an example of how a series of conclusive reviews and analyses (including the government’s own doubts) advising against a course of action to fund and build it, can be overturned at a stroke: the most powerful government minister, in charge of prudent use of funds in times of supposed austerity, came to fund the road scheme in England with the worst value for money and highest climate change gas emissions.
Now, as then, we have major financial commitment to new roads, £15m for the Queensway Gateway Road (QGR) and an almost certainly depressed figure of £5m for the North Bexhill Access Road (NBAR). Given the history of BHLR costs, these figures will surely rise, paid for by………….
These new roads spawned by the BHLR scheme are now at varying stages of development. The Queensway Gateway Road has been approved by Hastings Borough Council planning committee; the North Bexhill Access Road has received £200,000 from ESCC for ‘development’, but the planning application has been deferred, possibly because no business case has been written yet, possibly through fear of a legal challenge on ‘air quality’ grounds. (for further information on these and other matters, see Combe Haven Defenders | Stop Osborne’s Roads to Nowhere: Stop …)
Both roads would have significant negative environmental impacts, and housing and commercial/industrial developments would be difficult to serve by means other than the private car. The ever expanding car parks and inadequate or threatened public transport services to/from the Conquest Hospital are likely to be reflected at these developments. We are in car county, where land use, transport and health policies are applied in a seemingly haphazard way. CBT – East Sussex has objected to both schemes.(see nbar-obj-final-2 and qgr-objection-3).
So, what follows?
Most recently, and as for the past 30 years, we have responded to the invitation by ESCC, the statutory transport authority, to comment on the latest stage of the Local Transport Plan process (LTP3). We believe our comments represent a positive vision that would sit comfortably with many UK local authorities’ positions on best practice in ‘transport and land use planning’, and a move away from ‘car based’ perspectives. Transport choices other than the car are too frequently absent as we close our front doors behind us to face the challenges, opportunities and joys of a new day. A significant shift is required to restore this imbalance. View ESCC LTP3 ‘Implementation Plan’ here: ltp-draft-2016-20
…and the response from CBT – East Sussex here: ltp3-implement-final-3
We believe the submitted attachments to our response amplify the points made in our response. A brief explanation follows each one below:
Cars reversing over pavements would not induce parents’ confidence when considering allowing children to take their first steps to independence by walking or cycling to school. In addition, the biodiversity loss and increased risk of flooding should be of concern to all of us. The research into flood risk caused by loss of gardens to ‘hard standing’ for cars on a massive scale carried out in Southampton will be of interest. Many gardens along the Bexhill Road (A259) have also been lost : front-gardens-to-car-parks-2
The relationship between ‘parking availability’ and aspirations to reduce levels of traffic is well known and usually ignored by politicians anxious not to upset ‘the motorist’. This leads many of them to set aside, or at least relegate, concerns on public health and healthy modes of transport, the environment, local accessibility and the availability of ‘walkable/cycleable’ services and shops – all essential components of a pleasant neighbourhood. It also impacts on the rights of children, the elderly and those who would choose high quality alternative modes of transport if they existed. The following two attachments show how parking policy could be used to create better town centres and at the same time save huge sums of public funds – and solve the housing crisis:
(The TRL research was published by a rather more enlightened Conservative administration of 1996 as a formal contribution to the Transport Debate – ‘Transport – The Way Forward’ April 1996.)
Jacobs consultant John Siraut (Director, Economics) presents a slide show offering an interesting and expert view on better use of scarce town centre space. Jacobs have carried out work for ESCC, though not in the field of economics.
A further example of better use of town centre space is illustrated in the example in the link below where car parking spaces have been removed and cycle storage, lockers and showers installed instead. Hastings FE college car parking could be usefully and similarly replaced:
LTP3 SHOULD BE: A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTOR TO A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THIS AND THE NEXT GENERATION: And we will continue to campaign for a reversal of priorities in favour of alternatives to the current procession of expensive big road schemes. These should be replaced through an integration of transport policies with policies on land use, health, environment and support for local urban and rural economies. Transport measures appropriate for creation of more easily accessible and attractive town and district centres would flow from this policy integration, creating healthier town and village environments and populations, and stronger more resilient local economies. The starting point should not be the latest ‘traffic generating’ road scheme (exclusive) but expansion of choices from everyone’s front door (inclusive). That would be a step change!
See response from cycling campaign group Bricycles here: ltp3-bricycles-respnse-2
WHAT TO SECURE AND MONITOR?
Adoption of the whole available range of traffic demand management measures, imaginatively and fairly applied, and including workplace travel plans (wtp) including ‘personalised travel planning’ (information from consultants Steer Davies Gleave here.); parking restraint; affordable, reliable, comprehensive and attractive public transport services; 20mph residential speed limits; 40mph limits on rural lanes; workplace parking levies to support sustainable transport investment; putting walking and cycling first in street design and maintenance (DfT; Manual for Streets); good value fares for young people on the cusp of independence.
Adequate evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday public transport services in the coastal towns and rural East Sussex, including restoring key services where there are none, such as Bodiam Castle and Batemans whose busiest days are Sundays: 287,000 visitors per year – loads of traffic – no Sunday buses. Reinstatement of cross border Kent – Sussex links. Quality advertising/marketing to be carried out in respect of ‘supported services’ There is often ignorance about their availability and local authority tourist guides don’t ‘champion’ them. Cycle carrying buses to be explored on appropriate routes in East Sussex e.g. High Weald AONB; South Downs National Park.
Specifically, pressure on Stagecoach to improve poor or non-existent Sunday, Bank Holiday and Christmas period bus services: Boxing Day and New Year’s Day saw no services at all. Brighton and Hove buses (which serve parts of Eastbourne well) ran on both days. Stagecoach should move with the times.
Seamless connections on bus services to the Conquest Hospital from Bexhill using the BHLR. Passengers are currently left waiting at Hollington Tesco for up to half an hour. Public transport links from communities to hospitals according to clinical need and convenience of visitors, and the needs of all working at the hospitals.
Enhanced bus services along the A259 corridor between Barnhorn (west of Little Common) and Ore: first proposed in LTP1 in 2000, it’s needed now.
Confirmation by ESCC of a February start to construction of bus lanes and priority measures on the A259 Bexhill Road, and improved levels of service before the traffic grows back after BHLR opening. This scenario of a steady increase in traffic is predicted by ESCC itself.
A realisation of the potential of rail to meet public needs and offer a good alternative: station plans for Glyne Gap, St Leonards – West Marina, Stone Cross to be reviewed with the Willingdon Chord installed. Provision of a new London – Sussex Coast link via Lewes – Uckfield – Tunbridge Wells. Enhanced levels of Coastway services. To protect the National Park – a stunning and priceless asset – abandonment of any ‘new A27’ proposals.
Part time railway season tickets – promised in the current government manifesto – have yet to be offered. High rents in London and high fares for part time workers are a toxic combination resulting in difficulties for a newly qualified highly talented student of 24; a housing officer of 40 priced out of London accommodation but now having to travel from the coast for 3 of 5 working days and home working for 2; a hard working and talented carpenter unable to seek work in London or elsewhere because of the lack of a part time season ticket arrangement. The lack of part time season tickets closes down opportunities for hard working and talented individuals.
A new funicular rail link to be examined capable of carrying cycles/wheelchairs from Pier/White Rock to Hastings Museum and offering access to all through ‘gradient transfer’. Together with the existing East and West Hill lifts enhancing accessibility for all, these would operate from 7.00a.m. and into the evenings and be an important tourism asset. The Ebbw Vale system, recently installed, could be a model.
Real Time Passenger Information for bus users – system to be accelerated please: the Eastbourne system was installed 8 years ago but has never been switched on. Clearly not a priority. Hastings and Bexhill are currently being added to the system and we look forward to seeing it at work. (Photo)
A step change in public transport links between Hailsham – Polegate – Eastbourne Hospital/Colleges and Town Centre equal to the best in the UK. Complementary cycle/pedestrian improvements to enhance their safety and status, along with essential traffic demand management measures (see above). Enhanced 98 and 99 bus services to take advantage of Hailsham – Eastbourne upgrades.
A renewed campaign to challenge aggressive, careless and inappropriate driving styles in urban and rural environments which daily threaten and harm pedestrians, cyclists – and considerate motorists. This impacts on childrens’ freedom and persuades those who would like to allow their children to walk or cycle to ‘get in the car’. Unfair, unhealthy; inhumane.
Packages of measures such as those alluded to in this blog would automatically flow from proper analysis of transport problems and can be sifted and tested for their efficiency, appropriateness and positive/negative impacts. The resulting mosaic of measures is much more likely to deliver the wide range of accessibility, health, environmental, social and economic objectives than the often speculative ‘big scheme’ approach beloved of politicians. They become objectives. They are not. In stark contrast, the package approach is certainly a better way of reducing CO2 emissions than pursuing the ‘big new roads’ agenda now threatening East and West Sussex along with the consequent growth in often short private car trips. These emissions are growing in the transport sector, in contrast to a fall in other sectors. We therefore welcome Secretary of State Amber Rudd’s recent commitment to challenge the Department for Transport on this matter of growing emissions and look forward to her withdrawal of support for the Queensway Gateway Road and other ‘traffic generating’ schemes which have constantly crippled all alternatives to the private car. rudd-ltt-art-5
A fuller appreciation of the major health benefits of reducing ‘car dependency’ and sedentary lifestyles expressed through ‘active travel’ measures – easily delivered and with benefits quickly discernible in the improving health of our communities. Five hundred people or more die prematurely in the county through poor air quality. Tackling mental and physical health problems through active travel measures would bring massive benefits to our quality of life – and almost immediately reduce pressure on the NHS. These opportunities must be grasped with urgency.
(County Officer, Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex)