Time to consider reopening stations

RECENT reports of proposed development in West St Leonards (Observer, November 4) and recent letters on the same prompt me to recall earlier plans for development of this particular area, and also Hastings and Bexhill as a whole.

The strategy was based on development around new and existing railway stations in Hastings and Bexhill – which we supported - titled The String of Pearls.

This was a basis for the SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) Five Point Plan, though it became distorted with the inclusion of the Link Road.

We believe that now, SEEDA sponsored development close to Hastings station is already delivering benefits greater than any that can be anticipated for the Link Road.

The plan would have seen the reopening of St Leonards West Marina station and also a new station at Glyne Gap, along with enhanced train services with four to five trains per hour between Hastings and Bexhill. This would have been supported by other public transport improvements.

A reopened station at West Marina would be a very useful access point should any development go ahead, and it would help to reduce traffic by providing a high quality alternative to the car.

There would be no land-take at all in a location where land is scarce and constrained by the former sea cliff. Any car parks needed would be smaller in scale.

Twenty years ago, we surveyed all the businesses located at West Marina and found that overwhelmingly they would support the ‘new’ station.

Cllr Jeremy Birch was informed and expressed broad support at the time. And in passing it’s worth mentioning that in 1989, we gained support from the managers of the Ravenside (Glyne Gap) bowling alley and swimming pool, and the manager at Halfords retail store, for our campaign for a station there. It’s been a long time coming and still yet to arrive.

It may be time to have another look at the case for both stations, along with all the other alternatives that could make up a sustainable transport future for the two towns, at a fraction of the cost of the Link Road.

DERRICK COFFEE

Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex