CONSTRUCTION work on a £2.6million scheme aimed at easing traffic congestion and ensuring Hailsham remains a vibrant and thriving market town is set to begin this week.
The scheme, which is being delivered by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Wealden District Council, Hailsham Town Council and Hellingly Parish Council, is funded jointly by developer contributions and East Sussex County Council. The work is expected to take 34 weeks to complete including a five week break for the Christmas period.
Improvements, which have been subject to public consultation, include changes to the road layout and the number parking spaces in the town centre, as well as new pedestrian crossings on the High Street, Vicarage Lane, Vicarage Road and George Street and additional disabled parking and loading bays.
Cllr Bill Bentley, county council member for Hailsham and Herstmonceux and chairman of the steering group set up by the four councils involved, said: “This project gives us an exciting opportunity to improve the appearance of the town centre so it remains an attractive place in which to live, work and shop, with all the benefits to the economy that brings.”
“With significant new housing development, Hailsham will continue to grow and this will result in increased traffic in the town centre. This scheme will help to reduce congestion and ensure we can cope with an increase in traffic, while improving the area for pedestrians and those using public transport.”
The work will be carried out in phases with a break of more than a month at the end of the year to allow traders to take full advantage of the festive season. Access to all of Hailsham’s free car parks will be maintained for the duration of the work.
The contractor, Costain CH2M, started mobilisation and preparatory works in May ahead of work beginning on the first phase of construction.
Construction work will begin on Friday, July 1 and will include changes to the road layout at the northern end of the High Street, new traffic signals and the installation of a pedestrian crossing. The road will remain open to traffic for the majority of the time during this first phase, with occasional overnight closures.
The second phase will begin on Monday, July 18 and includes the widening of footpaths along the High Street, road resurfacing and the installation of pedestrian crossing points. The road will be closed to traffic, with arrangements in place for business deliveries.
The final phase before the Christmas break is expected to begin on October 3 and includes the widening of footpaths in George Street, changes to the road layout and the installation of a new zebra crossing. The road will remain open for the first four weeks, but closed to traffic for the final four weeks. Work will be completed by November 25 to coincide with the turning on of the Christmas tree lights.
Following a five week break, work will resume on January 3, 2017 with improvements to the road layout and footpaths in Vicarage Lane and Vicarage Road. The road will be closed for eight weeks while a permanent southbound one way system is put in place.
All work is expected to be completed by February 28, 2017.
Full pedestrian access will be maintained throughout construction and contractors are working closely with the local business community to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum “Open for Business” signs will be placed around the town for the duration of the work
“Keeping the town open for business and disruption to an absolute minimum is as important as the scheme itself,” Cllr Bentley added. “We have worked closely with the business community and residents affected to ensure that they are not unnecessarily affected by the work.
“The good news is that those people working in and visiting the town will continue to be able to access all of Hailsham’s free car parks during the work.”
The town centre scheme is the first part of the solution to address the pressures caused by an increase in development and traffic in the area. Other measures are being explored and planned.
While the scheme will include a reduction in on-street parking spaces, Hailsham will retain its free off-road parking – more than 650 spaces.
The cost of the scheme will be partly funded by housing developers provided work takes place in the next 12 months.
Full details of the scheme are;
Phase 1: Northern end of the High Street at the junction with North Street and Vicarage Lane – July 1 to September 19. Changes to the road layout including a reduction in size of the central island, new traffic signals and a pedestrian controlled crossing. The road will remain open to vehicular traffic for the majority of the time, with occasional overnight closures to facilitate the installation of electrical and telecommunication ducting beneath the road.
Phase 2: High Street – July 18 to October 28. Widening and resurfacing of footpaths, installation of new street lighting, new pedestrian crossing points, improvements to the drainage system and road resurfacing. Special consideration is being given to the tree, protected with a Tree Preservation Order. The road will be closed to vehicular traffic, although arrangements will be in place for businesses deliveries.
Phase 3: George Street – October 3 to November 25. Widening and resurfacing of footpaths, reduction of road width to one lane of traffic, a new zebra crossing near the junction with Victoria Street, drainage improvements, new street lights and road resurfacing. The road will remain open for the first four weeks, but close for the final four weeks of the eight week phase. George Street will be completed by November 25 to coincide with the turning on of the Christmas tree lights.
Work will stop for the Christmas period – November 25 – January 3, 2017.
Phase 4: Vicarage Lane and Vicarage Road – January 3, 2017 to February 28. Improvement to the road alignment, widening of the footpath outside the leisure centre, a new footpath and pedestrian controlled crossing at the southern junction with Market Street and a permanent southbound one way system. The road will be closed for eight weeks with local diversions in place.