THE GREEN light has finally been given for the £100 million Hastings to Bexhill Link Road now billed as the ‘biggest economic boost for the area in a generation’.
After months of uncertainty the scheme was finally given the go-ahead in Chancellor George Osborne’s budget on Wednesday.
It is estimated up to 3,000 jobs and 2,000 new homes will be created and £1 billion generated for the local economy.
Civic and business leaders have welcomed the announcement as a shot in the arm for the 1066 Country region and are confident it will help regenerate one of the most deprived areas in the south east.
Anti-link road campaigners say it will be a waste of money and a blot on the landscape, destroying the local environment.
Final details of the scheme were confirmed yesterday with a five-mile stretch of road to be built by 2016.
It will link the A269 at London Road in Bexhill with the B2092 Queensway at St Leonards and run through the Combe Haven Valley area.
The Government is contributing £56 million towards the scheme with East Sussex County Council providing £47 million.
The county council has already spent £15 million on consultation plans and a public inquiry.
Two sites will be considered for development creating 51,000 square metres of business space; one to the north and one to the south of the road.
There will be space for a mixture of offices, manufacturing and distribution and warehousing.
John Shaw, chief executive officer of regeneration agency East Sussex Energy, Infrastructure and Development Ltd, branded the scheme ‘the biggest economic boost to the region in a generation’.
And local businesses in Hastings are already jockeying for position.
The boss of plastics manufacturer Plastipacks wants to be the first to put his name down.
Managing director, Rob Adlington, said: “Hastings is the best place in the world for us to run our business right now.
“We want to be first on the list to move in. We need to expand and if the scheme was not approved we would have gone elsewhere.”
Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said: “This is something I have fought for.
“Together, through petitions, letters, meetings and campaigning, the community made the case to the Government.
“This government listened and it is an important leap forward for local economic growth.”
East Sussex County Council leader, Peter Jones, said: “The link road is absolutely crucial to the regeneration of Hastings and Bexhill and is a once in a generation opportunity to make a step change to the most deprived local economy in the South East.
“It’ll bring real benefits to the two towns, such as better access to jobs; fewer cars using roads that aren’t suitable for them; opportunities for housing and business development; and a reduction in the number of accidents on local roads.
“The road frees up more than a third of the new space required to allow existing businesses to grow and opportunity for new business to flourish.”
But Friends of the Earth’s director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett said: “This will be one of the most damaging road schemes in the South East of England and will do nothing to end our transport chaos.”