‘No guaranteed funding’ for new Bexhill road, say campaigners

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Campaigners say Rother District Council should refuse to consider plans for a new road because funding for the scheme has not been finalised.

The Combe Haven Defenders says it submitted a Freedom of Information request which revealed the North Bexhill Access Road (NBAR), for which planning permission has already been requested, has neither guaranteed funding nor a properly evaluated business case.

According to the information supplied in response to the request, the business case is not expected to be available before April 2016.

But Sea Change Sussex, which is behind the application, says the project falls in line with planning policy and building work would commence once funding was in place, subject to planning permission being granted.

Sea Change recently applied for planning permission for the 2.4km road which would join the Bexhill Hastings Link Road to the A269 west of Sidley.

A recent response to a Freedom of Information request made by Combe Haven Defenders to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) states that ‘the business case for the scheme has not yet gone through the Independent Technical Evaluation process and the funding has not yet been guaranteed by the government’.

It goes on to say that ‘The business case and ITE [Independent Technical Evaluation] will be published on the SELEP website once this stage is completed; this is not expected to be before April 2016.’

The NBAR, which has been allocated £5m in funding by SELEP, would run through countryside north of Bexhill to provide access to housing and business parks planned for the area.

Combe Haven Defenders spokesperson Emily Johns said: “This is a case where the cart is miles in front of the horse.

“Our previous experience suggests that Sea Change is likely to start work on the road as soon as planning permission is granted.

“If it turns out later that the business case does not stack up, or the funding does not materialise, huge and irreparable damage will already have been done to the countryside.

“We’re calling on Rother District Council to refuse to consider the planning application for the road unless and until Sea Change can show a proper business plan and guaranteed funding for the scheme.”

A Sea Change spokesperson said: “A planning application can be submitted at any time by anybody – and bear in mind that this scheme conforms with established local planning policies.

“But no-one is going to start building a road without funding in place.”

A Rother District Council spokesperson said: “Rother District Council must consider all planning applications submitted in accordance with planning legislation.

“As the application is yet to be considered, we cannot comment further.”

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