IMPROVEMENTS to Hailsham town centre are beginning to take shape as work on a £2.5million scheme gathers pace.
Contractor Costain CH2M has started work on footpaths at the northern end of the High Street, and new street lights along the entire length of the road have already been installed.
As the transformation continues, Cllr Bill Bentley, the chairman of the scheme’s steering group – representing East Sussex County Council, Wealden District Council, Hailsham Town Council and Hellingly Parish Council – is keen to get the message out that the town is open for business.
“We are working closely with traders and the contractor to ensure the town remains as accessible to shoppers as possible,” said Cllr Bentley, who is the county council representative for Hailsham and Herstmonceux.
“We have also been working with the Chamber of Commerce, which has invested in a number of signs displayed on the main roads around the town to promote business.”
He added: “We are delighted that by carefully co-ordinating the necessary road closures we have been able to maintain full access to all of Hailsham’s free car parks. We hope this encourages people to continue to support their local shopkeepers while improvement work is carried out.”
The scheme is funded by contributions to infrastructure made by developers building housing developments in the area, and £1.3million from East Sussex County Council. It is being delivered in partnership with Wealden District Council, Hailsham Town Council and Hellingly Parish Council.
The improvements, which have been subject to public consultation, include changes to the road layout and the number of 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.
The High Street will remain open to pedestrians for the duration of the work, with vehicular access around the town centre possible via Vicarage Lane, George Street and North Street.
All Stagecoach and Compass services are being diverted via North Street and will use the layby area opposite Tesco as a stop. This will continue until the completion of the work in November.
Cuckmere buses and the taxi stand have been moved to Vicarage Lane and taxis can also be picked up in the Asda car park behind Pipers News.
Cllr Bentley added: “With significant new housing development, Hailsham will continue to grow and as a result in an increase of traffic in the town centre.
“This scheme gives us the perfect opportunity to ensure we can cope with the increase in traffic, while improving the area for pedestrians and those using public transport and ensuring Hailsham remains an attractive place in which to live, work and shop.”
He said: “I would like to thank Costain CH2M for the effort they have made to work with the local community and minimize disruption during the work, and the speed with which they are delivering the project.”
Updated information will be available online throughout the scheme at www.eastsussexhighways.com/events/hailsham-town-centre-regeneration-works
All work is expected to be completed by February 28, 2017.
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.
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.