Bespoke, the cycle group for Eastbourne, wish to provide feedback on the proposed housing development at Brodricklands. These comments are mostly from the perspective of transport in the area.
Legality of Brodricklands development
Overall the position is that the Wealden Local Plan identifies areas that are to be considered for development. Developers will be well aware, and can see from the map of Hindsland, that this new proposal is south of the current boundaries and hence has not been consulted on, within the WLP. Its validity is therefore in question.
Housing within Wealden
In order to absorb the shortfall from other Councils, Wealden Council is intending to build around 13,000 houses in South Wealden. The effect will be to create a conurbation of 170,000 people from Hailsham to Eastbourne. This will lead to considerable issues in terms of transport, water, drainage, pollution and education. Many housing schemes have been agreed even though guidance within the WLP Policy WCS7 states, “The release of land will be conditional upon their being sufficient local capacity within the existing infrastructure.” However there is considerable scepticism that the ESCC Local Transport Plan will be able to provide enough capacity to support such large scale development.
There is a trend away from the traditional housing estate. To overcome Public Health concerns the Government has realised that the approach to building planning must change. The Local Government Association, in partnership with Public Health England and the Town and Country Planning Association have launched the report ‘Building the foundations: Tackling obesity through planning and development’. This is to counteract ‘obesogenic environments’ which play a role in contributing to children, particularly, becoming overweight and obese. Streets designed around the car encourage people to drive, to the detriment of healthier alternatives.
Design considerations for housing
The current scheme at Brodricklands uses the standard 5.5 metre road with 2 metre pavements and as usual this plan is built around cars. These 5.5m roads lead to parking on pavements, as currently happens on the three roads that connect directly to these estates. This adversely affects pedestrians. However designs should include permeability between streets for non motor traffic. This is not using unlit alleyways but safe and secure connections. Overall a much more sustainable solution is required with green corridors so that school children can walk or cycle to school.
Before Wealden go ahead with 13,000 new houses it would be good to have a different approach to design. This would include greener and more environmental designs. If this scheme were to proceed then this could be a pilot site to test these ideas.
This estate effects both Wealden and Eastbourne Councils. Many of the roads in Willingdon and Hampden Park are already predicted to become considerably slower. The Eastbourne to Hailsham sustainability corridor predicts by 2027 that traffic journeys will be 70% longer at peak times and even with the most sustainable solutions 48% longer. ESCC are well aware of the transport issues and were intending to implement bus lanes to the detriment of other motor traffic. Ones that are local to this scheme would be Eastbourne Road, Decoy Drive, Rodmill near DGH, and Kings Drive. These are the very roads that traffic from this estate would add to. Another nearby pinch point is at the end of Decoy Drive at Hampden Park station. Even without the new supermarket, which is about to open, the level crossing is now often gridlocked.
Cycling and Walking
Planners should be aware that cycle groups within East Sussex have little confidence in the ESCC Local Transport Plan. This view has been articulated already to the County Council.
To begin with developments are supposed to meet this hierarchy from the Government’s Manual for Streets. This is often ignored within East Sussex and priority still given to car traffic.
There is a failure in the WLP to reflect the significant move towards promoting ‘active travel’ (cycling and walking) which is being led both by the Government and by many health bodies.
The Government made a manifesto pledge to double cycling activity, to make cycling safer and to reduce the number of cyclists who are killed or seriously injured. Each new housing estate could contribute to this goal.
Specific design options
In order for Wealden to support active travel, which would include doubling cycling numbers, a network of cycle and walking routes would be required. Otherwise the huge projected increase in traffic density will squeeze cycle usage. Eastbourne BC are planning in their design for Eastbourne Park to build more cycle lanes and footpaths. The Park is to the south of the Hindsland and Brodrick areas. If connected this would create a green corridor from Eastbourne to Polegate.
Shows cycle routes along periphery on both East and West borders
Yellow are new proposed routes – Pink National Cycle Route 21.
There are concerns, reported by the developers, as to the railway crossing between Hindsland and Brodrick. With these developments a bridge would be required for pedestrians. Likewise to the south of Brodrick there is a proposed route from Hazelwood Ave across to National Cycle Route 21.
A cycle route across Hindsland has been agreed under S106/CIL. This would allow Willingdon residents a safe off road route to Polegate and Eastbourne. The A2270 being too dangerous for the less confident cyclist.
The area shown above is the Eastbourne Park. The Brodrick development is on the top left of this. A number of cycle routes both actual and planned are shown. The Hindsland / Brodrick sites would then allow a corridor to the north of this area.
As stated already, this proposal was not included in the Wealden Local Plan and therefore its validity is in question. However if it were to proceed these are the main points
- The Council need to adopt greener designs. Along the lines of the Government’s “Manual For Streets”. So for example 5.5m roads with narrow pavements do not support pedestrians and long winding roads calm car traffic but are not direct enough for pedestrians.
- Councils have a duty to increase walking and double the cycling numbers. Wealden currently will be forcing these very people off the roads.
- There is an opportunity to create a traffic free green corridor on this land and join other possible routes in Eastbourne Park, so that there is a safe and secure route into Eastbourne and Polegate.