Plans for the controversial North Bexhill Access Road were given the go-ahead today (Thursday).
There was a police presence at Bexhill Town Hall as members of Rother District Council’s planning committee debated the application for the 2.4km road, which would connect the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road and A269 in Sidley.
There had been plenty of opposition to the scheme, with 106 letters against the project sent to the council, along with a 50-signature strong petition.
Objectors raised concerns about pollution, the effect on wildlife and the impact of increased traffic on surrounding roads, including Peartree Lane.
Cllr Maurice Watson (Lab, Sidley) was outspoken in his support for the new road, describing it as ‘the way forward’.
He said: “It absolutely opens up the Combe Valley itself.
“Now we have the new road, we have seen improved times between Hastings and Bexhill, helping people getting to the hospital, trade centres, Tesco...you name it.”
But Cllr Doug Oliver (Ind, Collington Ward) said he felt the application had been ‘hurried through’.
He said: “It looks like the cart before the horse to me.
“I can see the economical benefits of opening up this land, but we have only just got that underway.”
He added: “We need to make sure the applicants Sea Change can get people for commercial activities and make sure Bovis can sell those homes.”
Cllr Sue Prochak (Lib Dem, Salehurst) echoed Cllr Oliver’s concerns, calling the application ‘premature’.
She also expressed concerns about the cost of the project, which has been given £16.6m by East Sussex County Council.
Cllr Prochak said: “We remember how much the Link Road had escalated in costs.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen here but I’m saying the costs benefit is not clear at this stage.”
She added it was a ‘pity’ the money could not have been spent on a station at Glyne Gap.
Cllr Tony Ganly (Cons, Ewhurst and Sedlescombe) said: “I regard this road as absolutely essential to the development of North Bexhill.”
The road passes by several areas of ancient woodland, passing just eight metres away at one point.
These include Kiteye Wood, where Scouts regularly meet and camp.
The Senlac District Scout Council had raised concerns about the proximity of the road – which will stand 15 metres away – and asked for a 2.4m high fence to be built.
Cllr Stuart Earl said he fears the children could be put at “great risk”.
He said: “That is the reason we wanted this fence - to be an obstacle.
“Rather than to keep children off the road, it’s to keep people from getting to the site.”
But Rother’s planning officers decided a wire fence would suffice.
The planning application was granted.
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