Exceat Bridge is part of the A259, one of the main road networks in East Sussex. The bridge is located in the Seven Sisters Country Park which is a popular part of the South Downs National Park that attracts many visitors. The bridge is situated between the Park’s visitor centre and the Cuckmere Inn.
The existing bridge was built around 1870 so that horses and carts could cross the River Cuckmere. It is a single-lane bridge which means that peak traffic backs up in both directions. It was extensively repaired in the 1970s, but the bottleneck for traffic still exists. This is frustrating for drivers and unpleasant for cyclists and pedestrians who need to cross the road twice to access the footway on the north side.
The A259 is a critical route for economic connectivity from the east of the County, along the coast to Brighton and through to West Sussex, including linkage to a key port at Newhaven. Not only does it run through the South Downs national park and a site of special scientific interest, it is also located in one of the County’s beauty spots which attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Therefore, East Sussex Highways are currently reviewing the possibility of a major scheme to address the long standing problems experienced as a result of the one-way bridge.
What does the project involve?
Replacing Exceat Bridge with a new, two-lane bridge would give an opportunity to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and make it easier for people to cross the road.
The project proposals include a new shared space outside the Cuckmere Inn and improvements to the footway over the bridge. The project could also be used to restore natural habitats like salt marshes along the river and scrub along the road.
The aim is for the new bridge to have as little impact on the surrounding landscape and National Park as possible. This will be achieved by:
• Keeping the location of the new bridge as close as possible to the existing one.
• Designing a simple structure which blends in with the landscape.
• The bridge will have viewing platforms so that users can enjoy the views.
• Any trees scrub, vegetation and habitats lost or damaged during the construction works will be replaced. We are working with Natural England to develop mitigation measures.
We carried out a public consultation in the summer of 2020. We received over 1000 responses on our proposals with 79% in favour of replacing the current bridge. We have used the feedback to further improve the designs. Further details can be found on our consultation page.
East Sussex County Council is extremely pleased to have been awarded funding for the project from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The next steps are to gain planning permission and to carry out detailed designs. The planning application was submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority in April this year and we hope to receive a response in early 2022. A start date for construction will be confirmed once the designs have been finalised and planning permission secured.