Posted on: December 17, 2015
The Bexhill to Hastings Link Road, which is designed to boost the economy of East Sussex and cut congestion, opens to traffic for the first time today (17 December).
The Link Road, now named Combe Valley Way, will bring an estimated £1 billion of economic benefits to the area and deliver up to 2,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs.
The East Sussex County Council highway – built at a cost of £120 million, including £56 million from the Department for Transport – is also expected to reduce congestion on the A259 by up to 40 per cent.
The opening comes after Glovers House, the new 25,000 sq ft business centre developed by Sea Change Sussex on land opened up by the Link Road, welcomed its first tenant, Park Holidays UK.
Preliminary work on the road began in 2012, but the opening date was delayed by anti-road protests, extreme weather and archaeological work.
East Sussex County Council Leader Keith Glazier said:
“It’s been a long journey but it’s fantastic to see the new road completed and ready to welcome traffic.
“As with any project on this scale, there have been challenges along the way, but I’d like to pay tribute to our Link Road project team, who have worked so hard to get the road open.
“Combe Valley Way will help to regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the south east, providing new jobs, new homes and significant economic benefits, and cutting congestion on the A259 and other local roads.
“The arrival of the first tenant at Glovers House is just the beginning, and I look forward to seeing many new businesses and residents making their home here as a direct result of the new road.”
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:
“This new South Coast link will end years of frustration for local people, providing far quicker journeys across the region and unlocking ambitious development plans.
“This road is further evidence of this government’s commitment to improving the UK’s transport infrastructure, creating opportunities for the development of new homes, business and jobs.
“The communities of Bexhill and Hastings have waited a long time for this day and now they have an improved road network to help them get around and get on.”
The new road will host a new bus route, operated by Stagecoach, which will link Hastings and Bexhill with the new business park via the Link Road.
The route and design were chosen to minimise the impact on the environment, while new habitats for badgers, newts, dormice, bats and owls were created.
Meanwhile, a major tree and shrub planting programme is underway while new ‘greenways’ for walkers, cyclists and horse riders will be completed next year.
The project also saw a significant programme of archaeology which unearthed one of most important finds of prehistoric remains in the UK dating back to the last ice age.
Video showing an aerial view of the Link Road is available at https://vimeo.com/148071117
Link Road facts and figures:
- Work on the 3.5 mile-long highway included construction of a new pedestrian underpass, a bridge over the main railway line, 18 other bridges and a million cubic metres of earthworks.
- The road has opened up development land for a business park of up to 540,000 sq ft, with sites for a further 220,000 sq ft ready to develop
- The first tenant of the business park, Park Holidays UK, employs 90 staff at the site and expects to add 10 new positions next year
- A gateway road has been completed connecting the Link Road to Bexhill, while an additional connecting road is planned to open up business and housing sites to the north of the Link Road
- A total of 108,000 trees and shrubs will be planted by April – two for every one removed due to construction
- The route was sunk into the ground and surrounded by greenery to preserve the view and help mitigate noise
- Archaeological finds included mesolithic flint scatters, Romano-British industry, Saxon barn and settlement activity, an iron working site with 17 smelting furnaces, ore roasting platforms and three Saxon driers
- Finds are now part of a school pre-history set which tells the story of East Sussex to local schoolchildren. More information on this project, along with a video, are available online at https://news.eastsussex.gov.uk/2015/12/03/link-road-finds-bring-ancient-history-to-life/