Nice Streets Please

Dear Transition Town Hastings member

The ESCC Draft Local Transport Plan 4, LTP4, is now live for consultation until February 25th 2024. If it doesn’t work as a link, copy and paste it into Google: Online Consultation

It also takes you to the Implementation Plan and East Sussex Library Drop-in Events.

We believe it to be very important that as many people as possible – who are, like you, interested in transport – should respond to this consultation. Collectively our answers and comments will steer our Transport Authority in a more or less business as usual direction or in a transformative one. 

But, before you fill out and submit the Consultation form, please read this!

There are 3000-character comment boxes at the end of each of the Consultation sections B, C, D and F but, for fear of being misleading or misled, we prefer to tick the ‘do not wish to answer’ option rather than ‘strongly agree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ in answer to the preceding questions. As we explain below, it’s hard to work out exactly what it is you would be agreeing to!

Our suggested 10 Steps to go into the section comment box is, in our view, our most important ‘comment’. The 10 Steps spell out to ESCC how people would like their 21st Century towns to be. Section we have left without comment because the assessments you are asked to comment on are so verbose that we don’t feel it would be helpful to go into them. 

If you like our Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum vision, use it to inform your own response to the Consultation. Or, better still, copy and paste our whole comment for each section into its 3000 character comment box prefaced with – “I support the following from Hastings Sustainable Transport  Forum:”.

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Our copy and paste-able comments, like this sentence, lie between rows of stars.

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B (8) – Vision, Objectives and Outcomes.                                                       

It is very difficult to work out what exactly your Vision is. Good, nice and sustainable transport etc. would obviously be desirable but marginal changes to the way we currently live and travel will not deliver it.

For you to reach your Objectives, your Vision must recognise that transport, especially in urban areas, based on the private car is too resource and space needy to ever be good, nice and sustainable. 

It would be helpful, ESCC, if you were to describe your Vision to the public and to yourselves. Such a Vision would have to be of a very different way of living in our towns: commute (maybe not everyday) by foot, bike and public transport; buy at local shops; walk to school; play in the street; nurture street trees; hop on/hop off buses (no timetables needed, 10/15 minute frequencies early till late); store your bike in a street bike hangar; join local car clubs/rental schemes; probably don’t bother with private car ownership (and save a fortune).

You, ESCC’s Transport Authority, preside over the most climate-impactful aspect of our lives and the poverty of vision displayed in a target of less than 20% reduction in car travel by far-too-late 2050 as your only target is not good enough. Interim targets should be set to increase the speed of delivery of change.

We are in a climate emergency and the longer we carry on with today’s very inefficient and unequal transport system the worse the outlook for the future.

If you think through the necessary order of transport and street interventions, could you better the Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum’s 10 step Charter for a Smart Town Network? (see comments at D5)


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C (6) – Principles and Policies.                                                                                         v*************************** ***v

The four Themes of the Draft Local Transport Plan are unarguable, but only certain interventions, not others, will achieve them. For instance:

Theme A: Tackling Climate Change

Here all interventions are to do with parking and electrification which can be implemented positively or not. In the worst case, local councils install electric charging points in public space and simply charge more for parking, with all the further inequality and persistent car dominance that would cause.

Better would be to develop public transport so people don’t need to park. Re-allocate public space – if you don’t want cars in certain places, just don’t allow cars to be parked there. Use the vacated parking space to put car clubs in every neighbourhood for those occasional journeys when only a car will do (for every club car expect 22 private cars to disappear from the neighbourhood); to put in car-free bus and bike routes; to put bike hangars in every street; widen pavements; plant street trees.

Theme B: Safer, Healthier and more Active Travel

This includes – ‘Hastings Urban Local Active Travel Enhancement’ to be developed by HBC and Sustrans. That concept has been stagnating for years. We need to up the pace and increase the reach.

There is, for instance, ‘Investment in Streetscapes and Public Realm to promote Active Travel’ – to be developed by HBC. But will ESCC concede road-width for it? HBC and residents have repeated experience of being blocked by ESCC when, for instance, the Borough Council voted for a town-wide 20mph limit, when St. Leonards residents asked for ESCC permission to put a funded parklet in a parking space or when Hastings schools asked for School Streets (some got short-lived trials and most got nothing). 

Theme C: Principles and Policies – Integrated and Seamless Travel

There are lots of BSIP, Bus Service Investment Plan, subsidised bus services in this section. But, without giving the buses some car-free routes to run on, buses will remain slower and less convenient than the car and significant ’mode switch’ will not be achieved.

The best use of BSIP money would be to develop permanent bus-only routes with priority at crossings to make them faster and more convenient than private car journeys. It is the only way to enable buses to become well used enough to be profitable with minimum subsidy. Suitable streets to create town-wide networks should be identified immediately to create a virtuous circle of ‘mode switch’ rather than our current vicious one.

Theme D: Keeping East Sussex Connected

Some lovely stuff there like last mile cargo bikes and Park and Rides (don’t just study them, build them!) but also a lot of road improvements. For planet, equality, health and the best connectivity, investment in walking, wheeling, cycling, buses and trains must come long before more investment in roads.                                                                                                                                                            ^*************************^

Note to Respondents re D5 – 

In the view of Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum, to achieve a good outcome, choices made from the ESCC LTP4 Implementation Plan must be guided by a clearly envisaged destination and path to get there. We suggest 10 steps, which here we apply to Hastings, but which would be the formula for any town or city. Adapt your own Step 10!

D (5) – Implementation Plan.                                                                                                             

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To guide implementation we propose this:

10 Step Charter for a Smart Town Transport Network 

1. Make a map of the town with a network of bus-only lanes; a joined up safe cycling network; School Streets; comfortable (larger) bus stops; buildouts (planted) and chicanes; cycle storage; bin hubs and widened pavements, to create a walking and wheeling town with congestion-free buses, a complete system in which all modes of Public and Active Travel complement one another. These mode-switch measures will reduce space available to car, van and lorry traffic, but should not deprive them of a coherent road network and access to all the destinations they have access to now.

2. Establish Residential Parking Zones over the whole Borough – issue only as many permits as parking bays, on-street and off-street, with off-street sometimes compensating for parking lost to other uses. Lost revenue from visitors paying for off-street parking can be replaced with a (initially low) charge for Resident Parking Permits. Where bus-only lanes are created, on-street parking may have to be moved to off-street parking.

3. Install the coherent network of bus and bike lanes, as planned, over the whole town to improve bus frequency, reliability and, thereby, use and profitability. Improve bus stops.

4. Impose a default urban speed limit of 20mph and, to make it easy to stick to and enjoy, cut and plant buildouts, build chicanes and lobby for Government permission to paint, affordably without Belisha beacons, zebra crossings over every side road. Begin with the School Streets.

5. Install neighbourhood bin hubs (to eliminate pavement-compromising wheelie bins) and bike hangars at regular intervals to serve all local residents.

6. Signpost and waymark a comprehensive network of walking routes – upgrade the surface of paths adequately for all seasons and provide wildlife friendly lighting.

7. Improve the walkability of pavements by widening, repairing, greening and installing benches and play equipment. No in-town road should have width devoted to cars wider than 5.5m, wide enough for 2 cars or lorries to pass one another. The surplus space should go to people or buses.

8. Establish Park and Rides as edge of town hubs with one serving as a new electric bus depot for recharging.

9. Write into the Local Plan – all new housing developments should be car-free/car-lite and should contribute to the 15-minute neighbourhood concept with direct routes through the estates for walking and cycling that link to the main routes. 

10. Advertise Hastings as a clean, car-lite, Active town, perfect for holidaying – ‘Come by Train or Bus to the Town in the Woods by the Sea!’ – to maintain and increase visitor numbers and encourage them to stay for longer.


F (2) – Support for the East Sussex Draft of the LTP4                                                                      v****************************v

The ESCC LTP4 Consultation with Implementation Plan is a pretty comprehensive list of nice outcomes it would be hard to disagree with, except that there are a large number of road improvements and schemes including to the A27, A259 from Pevensey to east of Rye (except in Hastings borough), the A21 north of Hastings and the A26 between Lewes and Newhaven which, if done first, will only prolong the reliance on cars and suppression of all other modes of transport. There are also more vaguely described interventions which could be good or could be damaging depending on which way they are executed. Wise choices will have to be made on how to interpret each intervention – which choice to prioritise and which choice to leave to the very end of the process or not progress at all. These judgements could result in very little systemic change or a great deal of it. The targets of 18% reduced car trips and a large increase in Public Transport and Active Travel by 2050, for instance, leave the possibility of 27 years of making the composition of the atmosphere very much worse before getting round to making it better again. This LTP4 has no interim target dates.

The most positive outcome would be for East Sussex to find itself in a few years time with a clean, healthy environment and mobility for all – for young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural and everyone in between – with pleasant streets and thriving local shops. In that nice future, there would have to be comfortable and efficient, frequent and fast buses, given as much bus-only route miles as road space allows; joined-up cycle networks safe enough for a lone ten-year old to ride; wide uncluttered pavements and pedestrian priority crossings for journeys on foot; and a joined up motorised vehicle network which allows access everywhere but which no longer allows the vehicles to marginalise, dominate, dirty and endanger all other road uses. 

It will mean taking some road-space from cars, vans and lorries because there is nowhere else to put the other modes of transport if you don’t. 

Finally, implementation will depend on local Councils and ESCC working together effectively. Unfortunately this has not happened in Hastings. No progress at all has been made on the Hastings Walking & Cycling Strategy agreed in 2014. ESCC reallocated, to a road scheme, £3m of the £6m originally obtained for the network. Then in 2022 HBC stopped the County from completing the much delayed Alexandra Park Cycleway, a key section of the network, even though HBC had approved it in 2016. Now ESCC have cancelled all safe cycling route projects in Hastings with a loss of over £800,000 of Government funding. Most people of all ages will not take up or return to cycling without safe, mostly off-road, cycle routes. ESCC and HBC must work together to progress these vital routes in order to rebuild any credibility for their stated commitments to active travel and to tackling climate change.


Thank you for reading our Draft LTP4 analysis – we hope it has been helpful to you, directly or indirectly, for your response to the Consultation.

HSTF – Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum