A request to extend the 30 mph limit along the A26 Eridge Road past Goldsmiths has been dismissed by East Sussex Highways.
Last week Councillors on the planning committee delayed making a decision on whether to grant permission to build up to 119 houses and flats on land to the East of Goldsmiths. The committee requested the Head of Planning contact East Sussex County Council (ESCC), as the highways authority, to ask them to reconsider whether the speed limit could be reduced to beyond the proposed entrance to the new housing development.
The site would be accessed via a new T-junction off the A26, between Eridge Gardens and The Farthings. There would be improvements made to the existing pedestrian crossing and two new crossing points would be constructed.
Yesterday East Sussex Highways stood by their position that engineered traffic calming measures would be needed in order for the speed restriction to be self–enforcing. Their opinion is, that because most vehicles are travelling between 42 and 46 mph, simply changing the signs would not work:
What is required to effectively extend the 30 mph limit is a change of appearance to introduce more driver caution in the vicinity of the site where this is currently not present. Realistically getting speeds to the current speed limit is more achievable. It is not supported by the Police to just change the speed limit signs to 30 mph as this would require the Police to enforce and any such signs are likely to be ignored.
Cllr Kay Moss, Wealden District Councillor and Town Councillor for the area, said she was disappointed at the response from East Sussex Highways:
To say that these works would not be self-enforcing gives the impression that the traffic cannot be slowed on this stretch and that any accidents are at an acceptable rate. If the speed limit were reduced to 30 mph and the speed camera recalibrated accordingly then this would go some way to enforcing the new limit.
The Sussex Safer Road Partnership website shows there were two crashes last year. This site does not have data on near misses of which local residents have many instances.
Journeys from at least 200 vehicles exiting and entering this fast-moving stretch of road and the likelihood of more accidents.
The developer claims that lots of the residents will walk rather than use cars. All children attending school will have to cross this road. I fail to see how a crossing with a refuge of 125cm can be safe for adults, children and pushchairs with traffic passing at over 40 mph, a crossing located just in front of a bus stop where vehicles manoeuvring around a stationary bus would be unaware of pedestrians starting to cross on the crossing.
Sadly, at a meeting I attended yesterday it was reported that funding for Road Safety was cut in 2010, that traffic calming is not a priority and they do not have the funding for new schemes.
I believe that ESCC have missed an opportunity here and could have asked the developer to contribute to measures which would mitigate the danger this development will add to this already dangerous road.
In the reply to Wealden’s Head of Planning, Highways explained that engineered speed reducing features would be needed, and for a strategic route this is not supported by the Traffic and Safety Team. Therefore their expert opinion is the speed limit should remain at 40mph as it is currently.
The application will now go back to the planning committee for a decision, probably on Thursday 5th March.
Sussex Safer Road Partnership‘s website includes an interactive collision map displaying person injury crashes as reported to Sussex Police. In the period between January 2015 and November 2019, there were seven incidents between the site and High Cross Fields; two categorised as severe, and five slight. The Highways report states the road and highway features were not contributory factors to these crashes, and all were road user error.
Click to see the report from East Sussex Highways justifying not extending the 30 mph limit on Eridge Road.