Lack of infrastructure in Uckfield prompts letter to Wealden District Council

Uckfield High Street

Local resident and town councillor Karen Bedwell has sent a letter to the planning department of Wealden District Council highlighting the lack of infrastructure to support Uckfield as it grows.

The letter is reproduced below:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to you in response to the reserved matters that went to Uckfield Town Council planning on Monday 27th September.

As you will be aware, Uckfield Town Council rejected all the alterations to plans to show once again their objection to further new build houses in Uckfield, something they have done on previous occasions, including the planning application for 1000 house at Ridgewood Place because Uckfield’s infrastructure like many towns and villages across the country simply cannot continue to cope with more and more houses being forced upon it.

This isn’t about ‘NIMBYism’ this is about being a resident in a town already swamped with new build houses with 1000 being built at Ridgewood Place on top of the 350 we have already had built in recent years. Increasing the population in Ridgewood by 25%. This is about climate change, when we spend millions of pounds to build SANGs to offset the building of new houses and  are trying to plant trees to offset carbon omissions and yet we are about to have another 119 dwellings built on an area rich in diverse ecology and woodland that has been there for 1000’s of years and will take the SANGS created from agricultural land many many years to replicate! 

We are very poor caretakers of the earth we have been given.

I am not against building new houses, especially more affordable homes; the amount of which get reduced as soon as the building developments start. I believe ESCC strive for 35% affordable home in new developments but Ridgewood Place has been reduced to 9% , so we are now building more houses to offset the affordable ones that haven’t been built.

I am against continually putting new builds in areas that simply do not have the infrastructure to support the residents that already live in the towns let alone the new residents that move in. We have two Dr’s surgeries in Uckfield. One currently has a patient list of just under 8000 and no room to expand with every clinic room in full use situated right behind the planned Mallard Development, the second has a patient list of just over 8000 with room to expand but with the countrywide shortage of Doctors, no one to take up the vacancies and built at the other end of town – a car journey away.

Our roads are congested. A road traffic survey was completed in July 2018, the very week that the secondary school had an enrichment week when all the children were elsewhere and the month that most year 6 primary school children walk ( significantly lowering the data that was being collected)  On a wet Monday morning in September it can take 20-25 minutes to get from Harlands roundabout into town, sometimes the same at lunchtime on a dry weekday morning and hours when the bypass is blocked with accidents, roadworks, hedge cutting or construction lorries.

So how much carbon emission is being produced by stationary vehicles, sitting in traffic jams up and down the town at least twice a day?

There are 256 allocated parking spaces for the Mallard development and one entrance on and off taking them straight on to Mallard Drive, which only has two exits from the main estate, Goldcrest and Mallard Drive leading to Harlands Roundabout, past the primary school. The primary school that is currently full bar a few spare places in odd year groups, along with St Philips the next school in the South of Uckfield and including Rocks park and Manor Park. In fact the only school that has spaces is right at the North West end of town – Holy Cross, meaning everyone will need to drive from Mallard through the town past the congested roundabout. The other exit; Goldcrest Drive will take you onto the Eastbourne Road to join with the traffic from another new housing estate – Fernley park which goes back to the congested Harlands Roundabout  exit from Mallard Drive ,also the same road the primary school is situated on where at 8.30am and 3pm 220 pupils are  dropped off or collected and the road is jammed with double parked vehicles and running children. To this road you want to add another 256 cars making a minimum of 4 journeys per day after of course this same entrance has been used by construction lorries trundling in and out right next to the primary school – Health and Safety, just possibly an issue (?)!

It may also be worth considering that to this chaos you will add the journeys of the residents of the 1000 new builds being built at Ridgewood place who find the same congestion on the bypass and come through the town on the Lewes Road where the new build houses from Sandridge  feedsinto the same Harlands roundabout especially over the 10 years the houses are being built and the bypass is at a standstill when extra roundabouts are put onto the bypass and construction traffic goes in and out of Ridgewood Place. Also most of the 250 Taylor Wimpey homes will use the Lewes Road as their exit come straight onto the dangerous bend by the New Road entrance, how many accidents there will snarl the traffic up over a very short period of time?

The only secondary school – Uckfield Community college is also at the North end of Uckfield and of the Mallard Development. More traffic to travel from the Harlands roundabout through the town, the same school that is currently over subscribed for local children (who could walk there) and being rebuilt with no extra allocated spaces for pupils despite the increased population coming from the 1350 dwellings already built with an  average 2.3 people per household (3105 people) – presumably none of these are going to be children needing primary and secondary education ?!

So, if not Mallard Drive then maybe create an exit onto the hospital road leading to Framfield Road as the ambulance station is no longer active? An exit that will lead onto a road already congested with double parked cars as the houses are Victorian and have no parking spaces,

The junction of the hospital and Framfield road has already seen non-injury collisions as visibility is poor and people accelerate too fast approaching the junction, if the construction workers, visitors and residents decide to park on the hospital site this will aggravate inadequate parking facilities and availability at a busy hospital and doctors surgery.

Concerns have been raised about water run off from the proposed development as currently the raised grassland provides a natural soak away of rainwater, any overflow will pool at the same dangerous junction at Framfield Road and Hospital approach, which will be hazardous in the wet and deathly in the ice for the same speeding motorists coming down from Framfield as they break on the corner.

So, IF neither entrance is either safe or sensible.. how can you put 119 residences there?

If 119 New Builds are put onto the Mallard field how are the patients in Harlands ward going to have their privacy protected from people looking from their windows straight into their beds? The natural lay of the land is higher than the hospital and it will be very hard to grow suitable screens around the new builds to block the view of residents to the hospital. Should people undergoing treatment and for some in the last days of life be subjected to having their curtains closed all day? Surely any development should not be placed on top of hospital facilities, is there not any moral code that prevents planners from placing houses and flats directly facing down onto hospital beds?

The field has a diverse and rich natural ecology; Bats, Doormice, butterflies, badgers. How will these be protected, how will the wooded bank down to Framfield stream be protected? It provides a perfect natural corridor for wildlife, wildlife which is continuously being uprooted by building developments from Fernley park through to Ridgewood Place. Many times deer get disorientated now from the bottom of Fernley park and get trapped along Mallard Drive and into Osprey Drive. There are displaced foxes on the school playing field and badgers being dug out of sets.

The strain on the infrastructure of Uckfield and surrounding villages is beginning to show. Lack of car park spaces for those using the town centre, the train not offering a service into Lewes for connections into Brighton and beyond, a slow train into London often full with standing room only from London Bridge. Two small supermarkets which already provide inadequate car parking spaces Where are all the new residents going to work? How will they get there? Congested roads, limited public transport, poor rail service, We haven’t even got a completed bus station with toilet facilities yet, let alone sorting the industrial estate, shopping and leisure facilities.

We live in a ‘water stressed area’ where will all the fresh water come from for all these new dwellings? To provide for the average use of 142 litres of water per person per day with the average household using 349 litres of water each day. This amounts to 512,681 litres per day for the 1350 new build houses in Ridgewood alone plus the planned 119 to be added from the Mallard Development. How can this possibly sustainable when there is no extra reservoirs  being built in the area in the next 12-24months for these houses alone.

It is not enough to say build the houses and the infrastructure will come, the infrastructure needs to come first and then build the houses.

Like many other towns across the country Uckfield simply cannot continue to have large housing developments foisted upon it without due diligence being given to all its amenities including transport links, public services water and sewage and it is time that planners from ESCC and WDC started to take the views of its residents into consideration and stand up to government. Stop adding on more and more to communities who cannot continue to support such increases to their populations on so many different levels.

Build the new houses yes, but build them in New Towns and Cities with new infrastructure and stop trying to cut corners. You are changing our landscape, nature and communities and not for the better.

The Mallard Development makes no sense. I am continuously told by Councillors from Town, District and county that there is no chance in over- turning outlining planning permission given in 2008. Simply – Why not, if that planning permission is no longer an option.

I implore you to think again, reconsider the Mallard Development, despite its 2008 outline planning permission and find a safer and more suitable place for another 119 houses that can support them and the people that live there better.

Yours Sincerely

Karen Bedwell


Residents are encouraged to contact Wealden District Council or their local councillor.

Karen Bedwell will be the guest of Jon Royle at 1130m on Monday 7th October.