September 5, 2013 by combehavendefenders
(image: Jacki Eldridge)
For many years, Rother District Council (RDC) has had a proposal in its Local Development Framework for a new station at Glyne Gap. This would help reduce traffic on the Bexhill Road by encouraging shoppers at the ever-expanding Ravenside retail park to use the train – currently, the shopping centre is accessible only by car or by expensive and infrequent buses. Now, the council is seeking to remove the proposal, putting the final nail in the coffin of this much needed improvement to sustainable transport.
Please submit your objection to this removal before the 27 September deadline. You can do either do this online (see below for details – it’s quite complicated) or by printing out and filling in the form here and posting it to: Planning Department, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3JX.
Core Strategy ‘modifications’
The proposal has been in RDC’s Core Strategy for some time, but now the council is consulting on ‘modifications’ to its strategy which would see plans for the new station completely excised – presumably as a money-saving measure.
‘Poor value for money’
According to the most recent feasibility report by Mott MacDonald (who also supplied the traffic data on which East Sussex County Council based its case for the Link Road), a new station at Glyne Gap would represent poor value for money (does that phrase sounds familiar?) and should not be pursued.
One train an hour….
However, their analysis was based on providing one train an hour in each direction – clearly an inadequate level of service for a station serving a major retail development – which is hardly going to encourage people to leave their cars at home. What is needed is a turn-up-and-go, cheap, efficient, accessible, ‘metro’ service, but the study didn’t look into that possibility.
Good value in 2004…
This isn’t the first study into the feasibility of a new station at Glyne Gap. A 2004 study, also by Mott MacDonald, concluded that there was a ‘strong economic case’ for the station. The key difference between the two studies would appear to be that the modelling in 2004 was based on a service of two or four trains an hour, which would generate an estimated 640 (two trains/hour) or 855 (four trains/hour) daily journeys.
The 2013 study was based on one train an hour, and claimed that only 229 daily journeys would be made, and that the station was therefore not economically viable. The possibility of more than one train an hour is dismissed as impractical. It is also claimed that a new station would cause many current rail users to switch to cars, because of the two-minute increase in journey time caused by trains stopping at Glyne Gap.
£5.4m for a station – or £113m for a road?
The estimated cost of this ‘poor value for money’ station? £5.4m. In other words, much less than half the most recent increase in the cost of the Link Road.
Object before September 27th
The consultation on proposed modifications to the Core Strategy runs until September 27.
Please submit your objection to this removal before this 27 September deadline. You can do either do this online (see below for details – it’s quite complicated) or by printing out and filling in the form here and posting it to: Planning Department, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3JX.
Please object now to the removal of Glyne Gap station from the strategy (but read the notes at the end of this article before you start).
The modification to object to is 8.1 (v) (b): Delete provision for a new railway station adjacent to Ravenside Retail Park.
Grounds for objection
Removal of plans for the new station conflicts with RDC’s responsibilities under the Climate Change Act 2008 (which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050) and also with its own policies on carbon reduction and sustainable transport:
Policy SRM1: Towards a low carbon future
‘The strategy to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change is to:
vii. Promoting [sic] more sustainable travel patterns in accordance with transport policy TR2, and through widespread fast broadband coverage.’
‘All development shall, wherever reasonably practicable, be carried out in a location and manner which will promote more sustainable travel choice. Applications for planning permission may be required to demonstrate how the proposed development will promote sustainable travel choice.
Improvements in the availability, quality and efficiency of sustainable transport opportunities including quality bus routes, cycle networks, priority for pedestrians and related facilities will be sought, including through supplementary guidance and in the determination of planning applications.’
Not sustainable, not acceptable
Clearly, the proposal to remove plans for a station at Glyne Gap flies in the face of RDC’s supposed commitment to sustainable transport and its responsibilities to reduce carbon emissions.
Please object to this, before September 27. The modification to object to is 8.1 (v) (b): Delete provision for a new railway station adjacent to Ravenside Retail Park.
Points to note about objecting
The system of making a comment is somewhat tortuous, and involves first registering with RDC, then clicking on the document you wish to comment on, then scrolling down the relevant document until you reach the part you want to comment on (section 8 in this case), then clicking on the pencil icon.
At the end of the form you are asked if you think the ‘DPD’ is legally compliant/sound. DPD is the development plan document, which outlines the council’s development goals (ie the document they’re trying to modify). You can decide for yourself whether you think it’s sound or not.
If you say it’s not sound, you then have to specify why not, and then have to tell them why you didn’t object earlier (it’s not clear why this is necessary if one is objecting within the comments period).
Overall, it’s a staggeringly ill-designed webpage, which conspiracy theorists might conclude is designed with the primary purpose of putting anyone off actually making any comments on the document. But it can be done – it just takes a little time and patience, and then you can say you’ve truly participated in the democratic process…