Safety at Ferry Road must come first says Councillor

Ferry Road Crossing
Ferry Road Crossing

RYE councillor Adam Smith says safety improvements are needed at the Ferry Road rail crossing if a new supermarket is to be built.

Cllr Smith said: “Neither applicant appears to have addressed the “pinch point” created by the narrow pedestrian pathway over the Ferry Road level crossing.

“In Network Rail’s document ‘Our approach to managing level crossing safety’ it states: “we will seek to encourage planning authorities to cooperate in securing level crossing improvements in connection with new developments”.

“However, in a covering letter from Sainsburys’ agents, WYG Planning & Design (25 Aug 2011) they state: “As we have discussed, it remains our position that no works to the crossing are required to make the planning proposal acceptable” .

“They further state “It would not be acceptable to Sainsbury’s for the development of the store to be dependent upon negotiations with Network Rail or works to their crossing”.

“A Technical Note produced by Mayer Brown on behalf of Sainsbury’s states that the footway on the northern (proposed store) side is “generally of substandard widths” but this is supposedly mitigated by the footway on the south side of Ferry Road being of an acceptable width, and, as such, “offers the desired requirement”.

“I would suggest that this introduces an unnecessary element of risk, expecting pedestrians, often those with walking disabilities, to cross the road twice in order to access the proposed store.

“The pedestrian crossing provisions indicated on the plan also introduce risk factors by encouraging those most vulnerable to cross at inappropriate and unprotected crossing places. I consider this poorly thought out and unacceptable.

“At the subsequent planning hearing, and, I believe, at the behest of Network Rail’s legal people, a planning restriction in the form of a Grampian Condition was applied to ensure that the level crossing was widened, the cost of which was to be met by the applicants.

“One hopes that this condition remains in place as my primary concern is, and always will be, the safety of the public with regard to this proposed development.

“No deal should be brokered that compromises the safety and well being of the people of Rye and its visitors simply to facilitate the building of a supermarket and to save the political face of those that initiated, what has become, a planning farce.

Sainsburys have indicated they may be closer to finding a resolution to the stalemate that has seen a two-year stand-off with rival supermarket giant Tesco.

It follows a recent House of Commons meeting with Rye MP Amber Rudd.

The access road to a store on the Lower School site would be close to the Ferry Road rail crossing.