Bexhill-Hastings Link Road – Economic Fact Sheet

The Bexhill-Hastings Link Road project is led by East Sussex County Council. It forms a linchpin of Sea Change’s economic development programme for Bexhill – as explained by this Fact Sheet.

For information on the broader aspects of the Link Road project, see East Sussex County Council’s web site.

Access to employment sites:  The Bexhill-Hastings Link Road – now called Combe Valley Way – provides access to crucial employment sites for both Hastings and Rother:

  • 42 acres of land in north-east Bexhill, able to support 500,000 sq ft of business premises
  • The largest concentration of employment space available anywhere in the area
  • A follow-on to the fully-developed Castleham and Churchfields employment areas of Hastings
  • Capable of supporting up to 3,000 jobs

Click here for a map of the Link Road route and proposed business development sites.

Role in economic development: The Link Road is a vital part of the latest phase of the joined- up regeneration strategy for Hastings and Bexhill:

  • A regeneration programme for the long haul that’s been running for over 12 years
  • With primary focus on improving education, skills and access to employment
  • Plus improving public transport, focused around the new rail station in Hastings town centre
  • Initial investment has been concentrated on Hastings town centre – in education, business and health care
  • Including a University of Brighton campus in Hastings and Sussex Coastal College in Hastings town centre and the Ore Valley
  • Plus new employment space in north Hastings

Building on progress to-date:

  • The area’s manufacturing sector provides higher employment levels than the south east average
  • There’s been an increase in total local employment over the last 10 years
  • Plus growth in the small business sector, reversing the previous decline
  • We have created two new business centres, accommodating 486 jobs and 82 businesses
  • We attracted Saga to Hastings, with a commitment to recruit many new jobs
  • We’ve seen growth in private sector employment 
  • School performance has improved with two new academies established to continue this upward trend

Helping the most deprived community in the south east:

  • Hastings is still one of the most deprived communities in England and the most deprived in the south east
  • Hence it still requires a sustained regeneration campaign

History of designation: The north-east Bexhill employment sites – and their access via the Link Road – have been designated since 2006:

  • There were adopted in the Rother Local Plan in 2006, following a lengthy debate and Examination in Public
  • There were recommended to the Government by its own Inspector
  • The employment sites were detailed in a Supplementary Planning Document issued in 2009 after a lengthy consultation

Nature of the road:  The Combe Valley Way (Link Road) is a local country road which joins not by-passes – two communities:

  • It is a 3.5 mile road, part of which utilises an old railway cutting
  • A significant part of the route is also through urban areas
  • The road joins workers and business owners in Bexhill and Hastings with a new business district
  • It is not the 13 mile by-pass through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty proposed some years ago, which the Government asked to be replaced by (the now implemented) comprehensive regeneration strategy which includes the Link Road

Environmental aspects:  The Link Road route and associated business sites have been carefully chosen to respect the environment:

  • These are the only potential business development sites not affected by statutory designations
  • The Link Road route is similarly unaffected by statutory designations: it does not cross areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), designated ancient woodland nor designated sites of historic interest
  • The Road’s design incorporates a flood management strategy approved by the Environment Agency
  • It is also designed to maintain the wetlands in Combe Haven, which sustain the reed beds that form the basis for the nearby SSSI designation
  • East Sussex County Council has gone to great lengths to minimise environmental impact in the planning and construction of the road, to the satisfaction of the Environment Agency and Natural England

Proven economic case:

  • A rigorous economic case has been presented to support the development of the business sites and the Link Road
  • Land supply studies and feedback from local firms show these new development sites are acutely needed
  • Economic experts Genecon forecast the business developments facilitated by the road will add £1 billion to the local economy over the long term
  • No case was made against the employment sites and regeneration in the Local Plan process, despite protestors opposing the Road
  • The Department for Transport (DfT) received some representations against the economic case for the Link Road, which were countered by further economic information from East Sussex County Council, Sea Change Sussex, the Chamber of Commerce and the local business community
  • The DfT rejected the opposing arguments and the Chancellor consequently confirmed funding for the Link Road in his 2012 Budget Statement because of its “economic regeneration benefits for a deprived community in the south east.”