Campaigners slam ‘soaring’ cost of Hastings and Bexhill road schemes

Queensway Gateway Road construction SUS-180214-144957001
Queensway Gateway Road construction SUS-180214-144957001

Projected costs of two road projects have begun to soar, according to environmental campaigners opposed to the schemes.

The Combe Haven Defenders group said in order to cover the rising costs of the Queensway Gateway Road (QGR) and North Bexhill Access Road (NBAR), money will be taken out of a budget set aside for other transport schemes, including walking and cycling in Hastings and Bexhill.

According to a document from East Sussex County Council, the cost of the QGR has risen by £6m, while the NBAR has gone up by £2m.

Both roads are being built by regeneration company Sea Change Sussex.

Regarding the NBAR, the document said: “The works have proceeded largely on programme with completion of the road expected in spring 2018. However, the project has incurred some unexpected additional costs, which relate to the diversion of utilities, specifically the undergrounding of powerlines and fibre optic cables.”

Talking about the QGR, it adds: “A recent tender exercise for the final phases of the work has returned estimates much higher than originally anticipated. Work is being undertaken with the contractor to minimise costs. The combination of these factors has meant an estimated additional £6m is required to ensure the completion of the road.”

Combe Haven Defenders spokeswoman Andrea Needham said: “We’ve been saying for some time Sea Change could not possibly build these two roads for the price they claimed. The massive increase in costs, particularly for the QGR, show we were right. And it’s simply outrageous that some of the overspend is going to be paid for by taking money out of the budget for walking and cycling in Hastings, an area which desperately needs improving. This is public money, being wasted on hugely destructive white elephant projects.”

A Sea Change Sussex spokesman said: “The original budget approvals for the Queensway Gateway and North Bexhill Access Road total approximately £31m, and we’re still working within these limits. These schemes are both vital parts of the regeneration programme for the Hastings and Bexhill area, bringing road improvements and opening up access to employment land, and we’re delivering them for great value for money.”