Conservative MP Candidate Sarah Webster Objects To Royal Mail Plans

This week Conservative Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Sarah Webster visited with residents and submitted a formal objection to the proposed Royal Mail delivery depot at Patcham Court Farm.

She cited significant traffic impacts, the flood risk to the village and that the mega depot is not inline with Brighton & Hove Council's City Plan for the area. 

Sarah told us "This not only risks the safety of Brightons drinking water but also will permanently alter the heritage of Patcham old village, a place I called home and had my sons christened in the beautiful historic church opposite."

You can read Sarah Websters's objection in full (re-produced with permission) below or download a copy of her letter here

Dear Ben Daines

BH2022/02232 - Patcham Court Farm. Vale Avenue.

I am writing to object to the above proposal. There are a number of reasons for my objections. Do please ensure my address is redacted when it is posted on the planning portal.

Not in line with planning policy of the Council

I am of the opinion that this site has been allocated to office use (B1) in the City Plan, not storage & distribution use (B8), which applies to this application.

This proposal in a residential setting is not conducive to supporting the local conservation area with its historic church, 17th century housing and dovecote, and would not respect or maintain the character of the area.

This site is in a prominent position and can be seen from the South Downs National Park.


Insufficient parking on site

The parking provision is inadequate for up to 400 employees on site with just 85 bays available. This is a highly residential area already lacking in parking provision. The Royal Mail proposal has already shown in their own submissions that 46% of staff will use their cars for convenience.

This is because there is no adequate bus service for the early morning shifts, and there is still a considerable walk to the site from the nearest bus stop which the proposal claims are merely 700 meters away. The poor public transport links will result in inconsiderate parking in and around the local roads which is not usually considered acceptable in highways or planning terms.

Parking is already limited in the area and this would cause distress to families trying to park near their homes. Residents are clearly concerned that parking data has not been systematically and accurately collected.


Intensive traffic movements with this proposal

B8 traffic movement and use this intense would be completely out of character with the location, which borders a quiet conservation area, with its scale and continuous traffic movements from staff entering and exiting the site as well as the HGVs and articulated lorries arriving possibly 24 hours daily.

According to the Royal Mail’s own Traffic Plan, of the 180 responses, car trips will actually increase from the current 70 per day to 82, and the number of car shares will also increase from 3 to 8. Walking and cycling trips will decrease substantially.

This must be contrary to the council’s environmental aims.

Despite the reconfigured entrance from Vale Avenue, it is likely large HGVs will find it very difficult to navigate the small roundabout and narrow road, causing lengthy tailbacks.

This will have a tremendous impact on noise, disturbance at all times of the day and night, and, on top of this there will be pollution from HGVs which would adversely affect the neighbourhood.


Risk of flooding

I understand that the proposed site is within the Inner Source Protection Zone and is a Zone 1 groundwater aquifer. Next to this is an allotment area designated as a Zone 2 area. This particular part of our natural water infrastructure directly supplies the water of local residents for the majority of the year.

There are concerns from residents that the development of this site could pollute our drinking water, as there will be 85+ cars parked here at most times and vehicle pollutants could enter our water system.

As the proposed tarmacked area will no longer allow rainwater down into the natural storage system beneath, significantly less water will be collected for resident use across the city. It is very questionable whether the site will cope with the large amounts of water and that the Suds system will be adequate.

If it is inadequate in any way, not only is contamination of the water supply at risk but also the increased gathering of groundwater in Old London Road. This could cause considerable damage to the nearby conservation area which is liable to flooding - The Wellsbourne river begins at Patcham and travels down through the town, through the Steine and out via Poole Valley.

If the water comes off the hill and joins existing groundwater it will flood. Floods occurred in 2000, and almost happened in 2021 when the water nearly broke the surface. I am also concerned that the land is riddled with sink holes and the structure suggested for this site, coupled with the rainwater collected, would be too heavy and would be at risk of collapsing the ground underneath it.

I am also of the opinion that the consultation undertaken by the Royal Mail, during Covid, was wholly insufficient, and I am disappointed little effort has since been made to engage with local residents whose way of life is under threat.

I believe that the above objections raise enough queries to cause serious pause for thought. Serious consideration should be paid to potential liability the council would face should residents be flooded having raised concerns about it.

It is my opinion that flood liability costs would considerably outweigh any potential financial benefits to selling the lease of the site.

I look forward to the council taking residents’ concerns into account and reversing their perceived support for this inconsiderate scheme.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Webster
Conservative MP Candidate for Brighton Pavilion


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