Bespoke have submitted the following planning objection to Wealden District Council.
Bespoke Cycle Group wish to raise an objection to the proposed development based on the cumulative and detrimental effect of traffic from new and planned developments in the South Wealden area. This matter is only partly reflected in the study by i-Transport, who are the developers’ advisers.
Bespoke, as the local cycling group, want to draw attention to the hugely over- optimistic predictions into cycling numbers used by the developers. Currently cycling is at only 2% of trips and the projection of 5% (up 150%) of trips is unrealistic. The current cycle provisional on the A2270 is poor and in parts relies on advisory cycle lanes of barely 1m wide.
In a wider context the traffic projections for motor traffic rely on a 13% decrease in car traffic and an 80% increase in bus use. These are also incredibly unlikely.
The road network locally, and especially the A2270 ( Eastbourne Road) will, ‘post pandemic’, become much more congested. Whilst it is true that some pressure was taken off this route by the building of Jubilee Way, with housing being built around Stone Cross and Hailsham it is likely that traffic will migrate and increase across the whole network and wherever capacity is reached local residential roads will then become more used.
Bespoke have commented on various consultations, on this and adjacent sites, over the last 10 years. In February 2021 Bespoke commented to the developers as to the overall scheme.
Comments from i-Transport
It is clear that all parties including the developers and ESCC accept that by around 2030 capacity will be reached at junctions and congestion will occur.
So in 9.1.24 it states ’the junctions will operate above capacity with increased queuing and delay, particularly in the evening peak hour’.
Furthermore in 7.5.3 “The traffic impact of the proposed development has been assessed for a future year of 2030 with the full occupation of the committed developments also assessed. A review of the assessed traffic flows along the Eastbourne Road demonstrates this assessment provides a robust and ‘worst case’ assessment of such traffic flows compared to the Mornings Mill Farm application with this assessment considering 12-18% higher flows in the peak hours.”
So the question is around the accuracy of the transport modelling and how congested it might become. This is an extract of one model with with 520 dwellings. Others with more housing density show even more saturation at peak times . Where saturation is over 100% it is likely drivers will look for alternative routes.
The recently published DfT ‘Bus Back Better’ policy document requires authorities to bring forward plans for bus lanes on key corridors. The A2270 (Eastbourne Road) is one of the three previously identified . Developers need to ensure that none of the access proposals conflict with the introduction of quality bus priority proposals.
The current time savings shown by ESCC, for buses, on the Hailsham Polegate Eastbourne Corridor have savings from Polegate to Eastbourne of up to 2 minutes. Critics believe this is not value for money. Proposed changes would require re- allocating some road space but cause further congestion for other vehicles. Even better bus lane provision would improve the journey for bus passengers but this is unlikely in the current political climate where nobody appears ready or wish to upset car drivers.
As background the audit of the ESCC data models, within the Eastbourne Borough Council’s AECOM report, suggests they do not produce reliable forecasts. Partly due to the time frames but also the methodologies used.
The two key factors in all the models by both East Sussex CC and i-Transport are around modal share and traffic levels.
Cars are the least efficient use of space in terms of people carried on a trip. So for example a car is 1 ‘passenger car equivalent’. However the car has an occupancy of 1.4, a cycle 1.0 and a bus between 12 and 50 depending on the time of day. So a big modal shift away from cars frees up road capacity.
Using the optimistic projections from ESCC, based on a 10% modal shift, these are
the new modal splits used by i-Transport.
• Cars and Vans from 75% to 65%- decrease 13%
• Buses from 5% to 9% – increase 80%
• Cycles 2% to 5% – increase 150%
So if these large modal shifts could be made then the congestion may well drop. However this remains unlikely but is the basis of the optimism from i-Transport.
East Sussex County Council Local Planning (LPT3)
The County Council accepts these two realities.
4.19 The key aims for the Eastbourne and South Wealden (Hailsham, Polegate, Willingdon, Stone Cross, Pevensey, Pevensey Bay,and Westham) areas are to facilitate housing growth.
4.20 Local congestion – key sections of road and key junctions are under stress from current traffic levels which add to the area’s local and strategic connectivity problems. Further pressure from proposed development will exacerbate this.
There is little optimism and an acceptance that congestion will occur.
Specific comments on Cycling
Bespoke have a difference of opinion, with ESCC, in terms of cycle provision within the area. Although some improvements will be made within the Hailsham, Polegate Eastbourne Corridor the increased traffic will negate much of it. Large sections, such as around Polegate, have 1m wide Advisory Cycle Lanes , “paint on the road”, that provides little protection.
The need for a direct ‘off road’ route, from Oxendean Gardens to BlackPath and PolyArch in Polegate, through this site, is key . Not just for the residents but for the wider community.
Finally returning to the 150% increase in cycling, this would be brilliant, if achieved but there is nothing that would suggest it could be done.