A MAJOR improvement scheme for Uckfield will be timed to minimise disruption to local businesses, the group behind the project has said.
The Uckfield Town Centre Highway Improvement Scheme project board moved to reassure the community after concerns were raised about the impact of the work, which includes pavement widening, new street lights and traffic lights.
Work on the first stage of the £2.5 million scheme, affecting the southern end of High Street between Framfield Road and Bell Lane, begins on Monday (22) and is expected to last for eight weeks, scheduled for completion before the busy Christmas period.
The second stage, affecting the section of High Street between Bell Lane and Church Street, will see current on-street parking spaces reduced to eight bays for disabled drivers and loading only.
However, this stage, expected to last for around 30 weeks, will not begin until spring 2015, once a new 174-space car park being built by Network Rail at the town’s railway station, is complete.
Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council member for Uckfield and member of the project board, said: “While we recognise there are many concerns, we can reassure people on many of the points that have been raised.
“The work has been deliberately timed to avoid Christmas, and work on the larger portion of High Street, including changes to parking, will only happen once the new station car park is open, meaning there will be many more parking spaces than at present.
“Our contractors will be working long days to ensure the work is completed as quickly as possible, and throughout the project we will ensure the message goes out that Uckfield remains open for business as usual.
“The improvements we are making are those which residents told us they wanted during the two consultations we held on this issue, and while there will be some disruption for a while, this scheme will have huge and lasting benefits for everyone.
“It will allow Uckfield to better cope with the increase in traffic caused by recent new housing developments, ease congestion and make the town a safer, more attractive place in which to live, work and shop.”
During the first stage of the scheme, the affected area of High Street will be closed to southbound traffic, which will be directed onto the diversion route along the A22 bypass.
The scheme contractors, Colas, will work from 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, with limited working on Sundays, to complete the project as quickly as possible.
A free shuttle bus service will be provided to minimise the impact on southbound bus passengers living in New Town and Ridgewood, especially those who commute or need to reach Uckfield Community Hospital. The shuttle will connect with southbound bus services at Uckfield Bus Station.
The first two stages of the improvement will see the installation of high quality Yorkstone paving and high-tech traffic signals which monitor and control traffic, while a 20 mph zone will be introduced incorporating Church Street once the work is complete.
The third and final stage of the scheme, the dates for which are to be confirmed, will see improvements to Uckfield Bus Station.
A webpage has been launched featuring full details of the scheme, including plans of the affected area and diversion routes, and can be found at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/uckfieldtransport
Anyone with enquiries about the scheme is asked to get in touch with the East Sussex Highways Contact Centre by calling 0345 60 80 193 or on Twitter @esccroads