St Leonards pavement replacement was an ‘oversight’ and paving slabs will be returned
The decision to replace paving slabs in St Leonards ‘was an oversight’ and contractors were ‘wrongly instructed’ to use Tarmac, East Sussex County Council has confirmed.
On Friday (July 9), hundreds of St Leonards residents expressed disgust with the decision to replace pavements with the blacktop material after paving slabs in Eversfield Place were removed and replaced with Tarmac.
Tanya Szendeffy, who lives in Eversfield Place, said the road looked ‘ugly and unsustainable’, while another called it ‘civic butchery’.
A number of residents wrote to councillors to express their opinion on the scheme which prompted a response from Karl Taylor, assistant director of operations at the county council’s Communities, Economy and Transport department.
He said the Eversfield Place footway was identified as a ‘priority pedestrian route’ to support the development of the council’s emerging Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.
As a consequence, he said, improvements to the footway were included in the Hastings package of the council’s Emergency Active Travel Fund Tranche 2 bid submitted to Government last summer.
Following approval of the bid and receipt of the funding, an inspection of the footway in Eversfield Place was carried out, said Mr Taylor, which identified a large number of broken paving slabs along a 500 metre length. He said these were deemed a safety concern for pedestrians as they presented a trip hazard.
Mr Taylor added: “As this scheme forms part of the wider local transport capital programme rather than the Council’s maintenance programme, the scheme should have been designed using sympathetic, non-standard, materials such as paving slabs to enhance the feature and look of the road and further promote active travel, rather than our standard tarmac that is used for maintenance repairs.
“Unfortunately, there was an oversight during the design of this scheme and our contractors were wrongly instructed to use tarmac. We will rectify that and relay the slabs that have been taken up, and repair the remaining section with similar slabs. This work will take some time to arrange, particularly with the current shortages of building materials which you may have read about. We will also let local residents know what is happening.
“Once again I am very sorry for the trouble this matter has caused.”
On Friday, Tanya shared pictures of the pavement both before and after the replacement and said: “Firstly, there is absolutely no need for it. Secondly, it would surely have been cheaper to replace the broken paving slabs rather than ripping them all out and putting this blacktop down.
“The change to the character of the street is enormous. It is ugly and the material is possibly the least sustainable they could have chosen. Councils have green agendas yet this is the product they’ve chosen. It is compounding the harm.
“The street is also in a conservation area. We have a duty to protect that. This is not on.
“This work is permitted development to allow the removal of paving slabs. That should not be permitted development.
“Create Streets founder Nicholas Boys Smith, of the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, would be absolutely against this.”