THE SCATE STRATEGY – VISIONS OF A BETTER WAY FORWARD
Building new roads such as the ‘off-line’ A27 to solve congestion is not – and never has been – the answer. To counter the outdated, expensive and highly damaging (to health, the economy, environment, climate, civilised socety) ‘roads first’ mindset of most of our politicians, SCATE has engaged with transport planning consultants and the University of the West of England to find an integrated approach for the South Coast designed to meet the needs of all sections of society and deliver huge benefits across a range of policies. Here it is being presented to Stephen Lloyd, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne by Derrick Coffee (CBT East Sussex) and David Johnson (CPRE Sussex):
The SCATE report – ‘A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast’ first launched in early summer, is now accompanied by a ‘Briefing’ which summarises the report. Commissioned by SCATE from consultants ‘ITP – Integrated Transport Planning’, the report has been widely circulated and both documents are now on the SCATE website – along with a short animated presentation illustrating key principles. Links to the ‘Vision’ and the ‘Briefing’ are here:
SCATE AT THE HOUSE OF COMMONS!
October the 10th saw the SCATE report being offered to Lilian Greenwood, MP, Chair of the Select Committee on Transport – story here:
‘SCATE_ AT TPS Event
Adopting the principles of the SCATE study would seem now to be a logical step in the light of the initial projections by Highways England for the ‘value for money’ of an off-line option: ‘poor, low or medium’ were the adjectives used in the appraisal. Instead, possibly harried by the promoters, consultants WSP have been asked to have another look at the scheme and see if they can improve the results.
SCATE Campaign – Position in October, 2018
In the west at Arundel, the Highways England ‘preferred route’ for an Arundel bypass has been announced. As this would destroy a large area of designated ‘ancient woodland’ and damage a large area locally of the National Park, objections have been made by several organisations and many individuals. Judicial Reviews are timetabled for the end of November, and surprisingly, Highways England have announced in the last few days that a further ‘non-statutory’ consultation will be carried out in Spring 2019.
A little to the east, close to the River Adur, a well used and popular pedestrian, cycle and equestrian crossing of the A27 at Sussex Pad – good sustainable access to the National Park here – is threatened with closure if a development at Monks Farm goes ahead. To secure its future and avoid impractical detours, it is possible to oppose the plan and request that the scheme is ‘called in’ for a full Inquiry. Here is a link to guide you if you would support this action:
Support for £75m* Improvements to Existing A27
The Lewes to Eastbourne section, with its already committed £72m (was £75m) improvements will deliver better cycle infrastructure along its length with junction improvements allowing cross A27 movements at key points. *£3m was abstracted from the scheme to fund a Highways England study into a new and entirely ‘off-line’ road which we strongly oppose. The very significant extra capacity created by such an ‘off-line’ scheme would generate large volumes of new traffic over the wider area and drive yet more ‘car based’ developments, difficult to serve by public transport and hostile to walking and cycling. Its close proximity to the National Park would have a degrading effect on unique landscapes, habitats and heritage.
Just south of the A27 on the A259, reducing road capacity to introduce bus lanes has increased bus use by 55,000 passengers a week and reduced traffic volumes by 3,000 vehicles per day! (see previous post). We look forward to the delivery of the committed improvements on the existing A27 and are calling for a return of the £3m to ensure the best quality of the measures proposed. Given the success of the Brighton bus lanes (see below), could the returned £3m be used to help a potentially effective string of bus priority measures along the A27 between Polegate and Lewes? The are no buses operating along this route but maybe a high frequency, limited stop service Eastbourne/Hailsham to Lewes/Brighton could greatly expand the public transport offer east-west. The proposed bus priority measures on the Hailsham – Polegate – Willingdon – Eastbourne corridor (see below) would give the bus a headstart on westward journeys and similarly speed the return trip. A number could be equipped to carry cycles for utility or recreational trips.
New A27 – An Attack on Sustainable Modes
A less obvious effect of the increased volumes of traffic on any new ‘off-line’ A27 would be to severely reduce the efficient operation of the proposed Hailsham – Polegate – Willingdon – Eastbourne sustainable transport corridor. Welcome and necessary measures proposed along this north-south axis include: bus lanes/priority measures; a ‘gold standard’ frequent bus service; new cycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Funding is committed for this set of measures and with luck, they are should be operating well before the ‘wrecking ball’ of a new A27 wreaks its havoc….unless the money is diverted to some other road scheme! It has to be said though that the gestation period of this more ‘sustainable’ strategy is already almost 12 years without any of it on operation; and the ‘car friendly’ housing developments north of Eastbourne have gone on apace with sustainable transport lagging behind or non-existent, while comprehensive sustainable access to the District General Hospital and adjacent Further Education college is a long way off its full potential and even being blocked by some local politicians.
Area Wide adoption of ‘Small, cheap and numerous high ‘value for money’ pedestrian, cycle and bus priority measures are the key
Support for the ‘off-line’ A27 route drowns out completely any well founded calls for better alternatives – small, cheap, numerous and consistently offering high ‘value for money’. It’s always the big and expensive ‘vanity schemes’ that get the headlines, but large numbers of smaller pedestrian and cycle routes plus bus priority measures deliver quick wins if supported by comparatively modest resources. The Horseye Sewer cycle/pedestrian way in Eastbourne, though not yet wholly functioning from Langney to the town centre, is an example.
Great! But we need more and quickly!
HORSEYE SEWER CYCLE LINK
This east-west route connects residential areas with three schools – two primary and one secondary – and also links with a north-south cycleway from Hampden Park to the sea (NCN 21) from which there is a branch west to FE colleges and the District General Hospital. The ‘cherry on the cake’ is a ‘Toucan’ crossing linking east and west sections of the Horseye Sewer route across the very busy Lottbridge Drove.In late September on a school day between 7.55 and 8.55, I counted 18 student and 16 adult cyclists using the crossing and 16 student and 23 adult pedestrians. The largest component of student cyclists are almost certainly from St Katherine’s secondary school in Langney. It is evidently popular with students and parents delivering/collecting their children and in some stretches, is akin to a walk in the countryside – peaceful and with lots to see near and far. More such routes are desperately needed to give children the freedom to make their own way to school and college, and tackle the unwelcome and unhealthy tides of ‘school run’ traffic. It’s also useful for those who wish to walk or cycle to work: “I used to drive to work but the crossing has given me the chance to buy an bike and cycle to work” said one female adult cyclist.
TRANSPORT FOR NEW HOMES – a guide for local planning and transport authorities published by the Foundation for Integrated Transport, with help from the RAC Foundation- examines 20 residential developments in the UK and three in The Netherlands to assess their location and design from a transport perspective in the face of a growing popularity for greenfield developments designed around the needs of the car. The authors say the design standards of many greenfield housing developments do nothing to encourage active travel or public transport. There is good analysis of reasons for ‘bad practice’ in the guide and a plea for coordinated delivery of sustainable infrastructure with assured funding from the DfT, and good economic and geographical analysis in deciding where to build – avoiding a target-led approach which arbitrarily consumes land.
The guide is here:transport-for-new-homes-summary-web
ROAD CAPACITY – WHAT IS IT? AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH IT?
Road capacity is the measure of potential accommodation of a road in terms of numbers of vehicle trips that could be taken on its length or part length. Traditionally, we’ve tried (and failed) to tackle congestion by building more and bigger roads which then have filled up with more newly generated traffic. But…..we now know that when we reduce road capacity for cars, it can ease things for everyone. ‘Fill the bus, clear the traffic!’ say Brighton and Hove Buses:
From our previous post, you can see the evidence on the ground showing Brighton and Hove Buses performance with bus lanes superimposed on existing road space leading to 55,000 more (and faster!) bus passengers per week and 3,000 fewer vehicles per day. Car park space is also ‘road space’ at each end of the trip. Removing some of this ‘dead’ space is seen by major consultants Jacobs as a key to town centre regeneration and also part of the solution to the housing shortage: former town centre car parks could be used to provide new town centre homes which would be within walking distance of many services and increase their viability.
In fact, the most effective method of reducing town centre traffic has been shown to be removing parking in towns (see post Jan 2016 on ‘Parking’ – TRL Research and Jacobs Consulting presentation; and April 2018 on Brighton and Hove Buses bus-lane effect). The TRL Graphic is repeated here:
Removing parking may also produce opportunities for pedestrian and cycle links, small retail operations and of course greenery – and most likely, tranquillity where it’s needed most. Pocket parks and conditions for informal childrens’ play could expand. Interventions working together are likely to produce the best results: limiting parking, transfer of roadspace to non-car modes, better bus services, integrated with rail, higher quality urban design, and incentives such as fuel duty increases and/or road use charging give a chance of traffic reduction. Simply improving alternatives to the car as suggested by the Freight Transport Association and many others, will have a limited effect on its own. New realities – such as a discernible slowing of car ownership, and imperatives to massively cut carbon emissions – more strongly than ever restated this month in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC report) – should give impetus to new thinking. I didn’t mention reinstatement of front gardens, but that may come later – we’ve already losts thousands.
WEALDEN DISTRICT PLAN – LOCAL PLAN SUBMISSION
We submitted comments on the above plan during the consultation period. The deadline was 8th October, the date of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report – and we pointed out this important event to Wealden District Council (WDC). For our organisation, the effects and their, alongside rapid decarbonisation of our poorly performing transport system, are at the core of all our campaigning. We have suggested that aspirations for a new off-line A27 are removed from the plan and that efforts to develop sustainable and integrated transport networks and to incentivise their take-up are pursued with imagination, passion and commitment by all authorities and agencies to trigger behavioural change on a large scale. There should be no more ‘car dependent’ housing developments for a start. (See above report). There are good words in the plan but priorities need rearranging. The plan, and our response (summarised at the end) are below:
SECRETARY OF STATE MICHAEL GOVE’S REVIEW OF ACCESSIBILITY TO NATIONAL PARKS AND AREAS OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY
We have submitted our views on this issue. Some of the suggestions sit alongside our comments on the Wealden Local Plan submission (espcially those concerning public transport) but go wider than those. You can see the comments we made here – as well as a map of the High Weald AONB:
STAGECOACH 349 SUNDAY SERVICE CONTINUES – ACCESSIBILITY TO AND FROM THE HIGH WEALD AONB!
There are big gaps in the rural bus services of East Sussex though the county has fared better than many. One reversal of a cut to Sunday services has been the restored Sunday service linking Hastings – Sedlescombe – Bodiam – Sandhurst – Hawkhurst – Cranbrook, with a connection to Maidstone on the Arriva 5. This service has been running for 18 months now and we’ve recently had the good news that it will run through the coming winter, and summer 2019. The announcement came from Stagecoach in September. There is a growing community of users and for many of those using the service the journey itself is an enjoyable social occasion. Self evidently, the bus trip can be an antidote to loneliness – a subject much discussed recently in Westminster and the media. The route also gives a boost to promote ‘sustainable tourism’ – tourism without traffic! A link to the blog announcing the successful continuation is here:
FAREWELL TO STEPHEN JOSEPH, OBE.
Stephen Joseph has been our CEO for thirty years, heading transport campaigns that have changed transport policy direction away from overwhelmingly car based thinking and towards policies that recognise and amplify the benefits of walking, cycling, buses and trains in improving everyone’s quality of life. His sharp mind and persuasive manner have given him a place in many high level discussion and policy making forums where his contributions (laced with wit and humour) have been greatly respected and valued. We’re hugely grateful for his huge and sustained efforts – and his support and encouragement of our efforts in East Sussex. Happily, we are certain that we haven’t heard the last of him! We wish his successor – Darren Shirley – the very best in the hot seat and look forward to working with him.
Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex
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