Closing a major route into Haywards Heath for three months next summer to build a new roundabout has been described as ‘the least worst option’ available.
The roundabout, at the junction of Balcombe Road, Borde Hill Lane and Hanlye Lane, will be built by Redrow as part of its Penlands Green development, which is well under way.
Members of Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee approved a number of changes to the application on Thursday (May 30), including allowing work on the roundabout to be carried out seven days a week.
The original plan had been for the work to take five months but the extended hours – 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday – mean it should be completed in three.
The committee was told: “The increased work hours will undoubtedly have an impact on existing residents both to the north and south of those works, of which there are a number.
“We’ve balanced that impact against the potential wider impact of roadworks which may take up to five months, and the potential knock-on impact not just on Haywards Heath but the wider area.”
There will be no change to the working hours for the house builders.
Another change involved the number of houses which can be completed before the roundabout is ready.
When the application was approved in 2016, Redrow was told it could complete 50 homes before the work was done.
With no concerns raised by the highways authority – West Sussex County Council – that has now been raised to 150.
Speaking in support of the application, Peter Bradbury (Con, Cuckfield), who also serves on the county council, said starting work on the roundabout in 2020 would give residents a year to get ready for the disruption.
Mr Bradbury added: “You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs and I suppose this is the least worst option in terms of what is going to be a very significant road closure for the area.
“We’ve considered alternative solutions to this roundabout but the roundabout is, without doubt, the best and indeed the only safe solution to what’s become an increasingly busy junction.”
He added that the other options included a mini roundabout and an upgraded T-junction, but that ‘none of them would pass a safety audit for the volume of traffic that’s forecast for that junction’.