Traffic-choked roads will have to deal with hundreds of extra lorry journeys a week as work gathers pace on the £485 million modernisation of Brighton’s biggest hospital.
About 200 people went along to a public meeting in Woodingdean to learn how their local roads would become even busier during work at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
There could be as many as 80 deliveries a day – or 160 extra lorry journeys – through Woodingdean. This would be the maximum number and would not be reached for at least a year.
But there are no quick wins or easy answers to relieve the situation, they were told. The construction project bosses are, however, using advanced software to try to marry delivery needs with optimum times in terms of traffic.
While some lorry journeys would almost certainly be made during peak traffic periods, the aim was to avoid this where and whenever possible.
Councillor Dee Simson and Councillor Steve Bell, who represents Woodingdean Ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, both spoke at the meeting which was chaired by local resident and former Moulsecoomb and Bevendean councillor Leigh Farrow.
Councillor Bell said afterwards: “This is a joke. We are at maximum capacity already with the traffic coming through Woodingdean.
“Quality of village life will be affected now for the next 10 years. Both Dee and I will continue to fight for controlled restricted timed access so we can maintain a quality of life for all in the village.”
Councillor Simson said: “We have seen a big increase in traffic since the Lewes Road development. This will just add to the misery for us in the village.”
There was a desire for lorry movements to be restricted to between 10am and 2pm but this would bring its own problems, according to the project chiefs.
Construction firm Laing O’Rourke is working with the council and hospital bosses various aspects of the scheme, with project director Jonathan Abbott present at the meeting.
Richard Beard, from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the NHS trust that runs the Royal Sussex, spoke at the meeting, which was described as “very tense and heated at times”.
He talked about the practical and logistical problems of trying to manage the timely delivery of materials and how the trust was trying to minimise the impact on others.
But it was impossible to avoid there being any impact. Instead, the trust is trying to explain what it is doing, listen to feedback and make reasonable adjustments to its operations when appropriate.
The council’s head of transport Mark Prior addressed some of the highways questions.
The route between the A27 and the hospital, via Falmer Road, the Downs Hotel crossroads, Warren Road and Wilson Avenue, is already busy.
It has become busier since the changes to Lewes Road, residents complained, and this would only make it worse.
One of those at the meeting said that it would be “ten years of misery for Woodingdean”.