A letter from Uckfield Chamber of Commerce president Fiona Monson to the chairman of the Uckfield Regeneration Joint Committee, Cllr Mick Harker:

Uckfield Chamber of Commerce position regarding the proposed town development

I am writing to formally set down for the Regeneration Board the Chamber of Commerce’s perspective on the proposed further developments in the light of discussions at the Extraordinary Meeting held on January 15th 2015.

Firstly I would like to thank yourself and Messrs Hannam and Reid for attending the meeting and responding to issues raised. I think the meeting gave us all an opportunity to learn more of the plans that are being proposed and indeed the views of members of the Chamber and others present.

It was clear from the vote taken at the meeting that those present strongly support retaining High Street parking ideally at the current level and also stated they would prefer parking facilities to trees. The committee recognise that there is a significant cost for businesses at the bottom of the High Street caused by flash flooding, not to mention the chaos this causes and loss of income to the wider economy. The drainage solution that the tree pits are designed to alleviate would therefore need to be reconsidered if parking took priority over trees. The meeting also strongly supported reopening public toilets in the town.

I would reiterate that the Chamber stressed it was essential to retain parking on the High Street when we submitted our views on the proposals in April 2013, and whilst we generally support the proposals, this is still a view that is strongly held by Chamber members as demonstrated at the meeting, not to mention other parties affected by this as shown by the proposed referendum and the meeting held to discuss it.

The committee acknowledge that there are pinch points in town and some dangerous parking spaces such as the one outside Superdrug which is very close to traffic lights. We would also strongly endorse that the parking retained be restricted and enforced at say, 30 minutes, and measures taken to prevent dangerous and inappropriate parking. It may also be sensible to have dedicated separate loading/unloading parking bays.

We also have serious concerns that the proposed High Street road works should cause minimal disruption notably in comparison to the problems experienced during Stage 1 in the plummeting footfall and significant traffic jams along Bell Lane and out of the Industrial Estate.

It is also apparent that queues continue to be significantly worse than before the works at Framfield Road and coming down to the High Street. It is not clear that the road is wide enough for two lanes of traffic and if this is indeed the case it would without doubt assist if lane markers are painted on the road. Could the kerb next to the barrier on the river bridge be set further back to help the flow of traffic from Framfield Road?

We also share concerns voiced at the Extraordinary Meeting that a significant number of commuters will continue to park in Bell Lane to avoid paying to park in the station car park, and would ask that this is monitored and if appropriate consideration given to implementing yellow lines on Bell Lane perhaps on the South side of the road and restricting parking on the other side to a maximum of three hours which would give visitors a chance to park when attending meetings with businesses in Bell Lane. If there is an issue that workers on the estate are parking on Bell Lane, perhaps a time restriction of 10 hours could be applied as in the mid term parking in Luxford Field car park.

We understand at the referendum meeting on February 7th 2015 a statement was made that the revised plans in relation to the redevelopment would not be available until after the election in May. We presume that there would then be further time needed to appoint

Contractors and finalise other details and therefore we question when work would commence. We are particularly concerned that work should be completed before the Christmas shopping period commences, which for retailers is in late September. We have recently heard that at the Council meeting last week the suggestion is that work will start in late summer and would ask for confirmation of the finishing date for this year’s works.

Uckfield cannot afford another Autumn of road works and upheaval in the High Street, given that we are all aware of the impact of last year’s works, and the fact that we already know that the works will be implemented over more than one year, would suggest that the scheduling of this needs careful thought

We would again like to stress that in general we support the Board’s plans for improvement of the High Street and wish to continue to be kept closely informed of developments.

Please do let me know if there is any further news on any of the matters which are under discussion and I trust that if it is appropriate for us to call a further emergency meeting you will be happy to attend.

With kind regards.

Yours sincerely

Fiona Monson