Junction safety questioned

Busy A259 Harbour Road junction

Highways England have made an unusual intervention into the debate around safety and traffic build-up along Harbour Road at the junction of the A259.

Writing to Rother District Council’s planning officers following a number of planning applications by industrial units along Harbour Road, David Bowie from Highways England raised his concerns saying, ‘As you you may be aware, Harbour Road already suffers from congestion in the pm peak period with the queue backing past the narrow bridge.

“The additional impacts of the proposals currently being assessed will add to this existing problem and I take the view that anything on top of severe congestion, is in itself severe congestion. This has very obvious safety implications to the operation of the trunk road as well as the local road.’

Mr Bowie went on to say, ‘My view is that a junction upgrade is required to both mitigate the potential safety impacts as well as deal with the congestion on Harbour Road. I have concluded that the best way to achieve this is with the introduction of a mini roundabout similar to that which is already present at the A259 Kettle of Fish junction in Rye.’

Mr Bowie has recommended that the companies who have submitted the planning applications, including The Saltings, Old Mears, and Churchfields Industrial Estate, work together to come up with a solution or, ‘If, in the event, joint working to mutual benefits is not achievable’ Mr Bowie said, ‘then regrettably some if not all of the…applications are likely to receive an unfavourable response from Highways England.’

The recent planning application by Long Rake Spar, if passed, is likely to make the junction even busier.

Readers will remember that the dangerous junction of the A259 and Harbour Road was one of the reasons given by Natural England for not extending the proposed England Coast Path through Rye. This dangerous junction was also previously covered in Rye News in 2018.

Rye News contacted Councillor Keith Glazier, Rye’s representative on ESCC and leader of the council, and asked what plans the council had to work with Highways England to remodel the junction, including how to make it safe for walkers and cyclists and support the prime minister’s newly launched ‘Active Travel’ strategy. Councillor Glazier responded, “The A259 in this part of the county, including the junction at Harbour Road is part of the Strategic Road Network and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of Highways England. This means that it is not for the county council to plan for any improvements to this junction.”

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. Once again Cllr Glazier responds with a “ not my job “ answer – as our elected representative surely he should at least represent community views to the responsible authority and press for appropriate action ? Perhaps I have a complete misunderstanding of the role of an elected councillor?

    • Good point Simon Parsons. Councillor Glazier headed up ESCC approval to remove the free bus service for school children as the cycle path from Rye Harbour gave them a safe route to walk to school, even crossing the A259. Not much hope of any interest from him or ESCC

  2. Traffic lights seem to be the easiest safest option. parking on the LHS of the junction is particularly hazardous as overtaking traffic is head on to traffic turning in to the Harbour Road. Walkers and cyclists take their life into their hands attempting to cross. People using motorised wheel chairs do not have a chance. You have to be fast and nippy to cross. Have taken problems to councils, police etc to no avail over a number of years now Each one says it is anothers responsibility. Children in Rye Harbour have to pay for their wn transport as it is said that the distance to school is walkable…but who wants to risk their children at this point??

  3. I used to work at Tollgate Garage that was on the site prior to the flats being built in 1987? And also helped with Tollgate Developments. The reason that there is a piece of surplus land on the corner of the junction and the brick wall is set back was a part of the planning approval to allow either a mini roundabout or other improvements to the junction. It hasn’t taken them too long to get around to it has it!

  4. Sadly it seems its pass the buck time again from Keith Glazier, one would never have thought he was our elected representative on East Sussex county council, i remember the same comments over the failed Supermarket at ferry road, that it was nothing to do with him,when East Sussex county council renegaded on Tesco,by selling to Sainsbury’s, that it was nothing to do with him, hopefully at the next elections we will get somebody that represents the whole towns interest.and doesn’t pass the buck.

  5. We lived on the Camber Castle footpath until 25 years ago, the road and junction were a nightmare then especially if you had a pram and small children!
    As development down the Harbour Road increased over the years improvements were promised but nothing ever happened. The recent sale of the ESCC depot at the top of the road seemed crazy as we are now left with no space for proper improvements to this junction.
    With increasing numbers visiting the Harbour this situation is becoming more and more dangerous

  6. Companys along Harbour road are working very closely with Highways England to try and come up with a solotion for the juction on to the A259.

  7. The A259 is under the jurisdiction of highway England therefore any improvements l believe are their responsibility not ESCC, Therefore cllr Glazier is correct with his comments.saying that l am sure any works or improvements will be discussed by both parties.

  8. Rye Conservation Society flagged this issue several years ago but was told the junction did not have enough traffic to justify changes. It was said then that things would change! A mini roundabout would require the purchase of a piece of land on the corner that may belong to the Environment Agency. So a bit of joined-up planning is needed not least as the Agency seems reluctant to divest itself of property.

  9. It is very encouraging to read that at last someone in authority, David Bowie of Highways England, is addressing the safety of the Rye Harbour Road junction.
    However a mini roundabout will not improve the safety of pedestrians trying to cross the road. As Jill Halpen says, traffic lights are the only sensible solution. This will allow all forms of transport including those on foot to cross and use the junction safely.
    So David Bowie, please consider a traffic light system with a pedestrian control button (and not a mini roundabout). This would also tackle the issue of space. Traffic lights would require less road space than a roundabout.

  10. Just to be clear the improvement of the junction of A259 and Harbour road is the responsibility of Highways England and not ESCC.
    As the Councillor for the area I have had a site meeting with Mr Bowie to explain the local concerns and what ever solution is found I’m sure the County Council will support and play its part.

    • It would be interesting to know if Rye News failed to quote you in full or if you failed to mention your involvement when approached for your original comment.

  11. Traffic lights can also be set to stay green on the main route until approaching traffic from the Harbour trigger them, this keeps the light traffic flowing at night thus avoiding vehicles having to stop for no reason.
    Councillor Glazier might be right with his not my job attitude but surely he owes it to the people of Rye to apply pressure on those who do make the decisions.
    Moving on to the present situation, a while so there was a campaign to get yellow lines from the junction to the bridge which led to many heads in the sand, one reason given was that it needed planning permission before yellow lines can be installed, I’m not sure who would need to do this but whoever thinks it’s safe to allow parking in the stretch of road should be sacked.
    I’m now expecting reply’s containing “we agree but it’s not our job”

  12. A connected issue is the narrowness of the bridge across the River Brede. I can’t imagine the cost and complications of widening it, but it is really not suitable for two-way traffic, and large lorries have trouble negotiating it.

  13. The narrowness of the bridge could be coped with for the time being by extending of the proposed traffic light system making it one way as at the Newenden Bridge. There have been some very sensible useful comments. At the present time of debt and constraint a simple traffic light system incorporating Tony Edward’s suggestion to keep traffic flowing during the night when there is less traffic on the Harbour Road. Also there have been suggestions that there should be sleeping policeman down Harbour road and into the village to prevent the frequent dangerous speeding. This was objected to on the grounds of dark sky area and the need to have street lights incorporated into calming measures. Since the dark skies do not now exist due to lighting in industrial area there is nothing to stop traffic calming measures??!

  14. Slightly odd that our representative at ESCC can say that whatever solution Highways England reaches in the future for the junction the council he leads will support it! That’s any solution – doesn’t matter what it is, ESCC will support it. Is this Stalin’s Soviet Union, where some very local party bigwig automatically voices unwavering and total support for whatever the Roads Commissar decides, well ahead of that unspoken decision, no matter how that actually affects the people who elect him? Some perestroika is long overdue in Lewes!

  15. If we are waiting for Highways England to resolve the issues regarding the Rye Harbour road junction, I fear that we will wait a long time to achieve very little. I hate to be pessimistic, but from painful experience, I have found that any issue which requires political will or expenditure of money is allowed to drift indefinitely. Clearly, the best and safest solution would be traffic lights to regulate the flow of traffic and to make it safer for pedestrians to cross. We could do with a similar solution to the challenges in the area of the St Margaret’s Terrace junction and the New Road bridge. However, Highways England is inert and inept. The last time I wrote to them with concerns about issues regarding the A259 around Rye, I received a reply stating that they were responsible for many roads which were a lot worse than ours, which I thought was rather a damning indictment of their management. I hope I am proved wrong!

  16. Christopher……well not much hope for any development….it seems we are in the grip of a hopelessness about getting anything done!? Personally I’m having difficulty with the DVLA getting my vehicle taxed and have been told there are so many redundances and disheartened people there that my tax for which I’ve waited 7 weeks is likely to take an even longer wait. I had thought of emigrating….!!! But haven’t as I’m still hoping things might get better. Very sad state of affairs!

  17. I think (reading between the lines) the letter from Highways England accepts that they don’t currently have funding for these improvements. My interpretation is that they are asking for developers on the Harbour Road to work together and potentially contribute funds in order to alleviate traffic issues raised during the planning process. It sounds sensible on the face of it, although it would also open the door for increased traffic through Rye & Winchelsea which is also very busy.

  18. One has to smile on john Hornigs comments on Rye harbour road, so highways England do not have the funds, but the Council have caused the majority of this increased traffic, by reneging on its promise,no more development at Rye harbour, and then allow the nature reserve to build their centre,with an estimated 400,000 visitors expected to visit, perphaps we should ask Keith Glazier, as some say he is involved with the Nature Reserve, why some of the funds to this project werè not put to improving the road to the harbour, it seems these councils make the rules to suit themselves, and others have to foot the bill in their wake,as for opening the door John Hornig for extra traffic, sorry but the horse has bolted,once again by empty promises from inept councils.

  19. My understanding is that there are already 400,000 visitors? As you say, the horse has bolted, but there’s also a queue of new developments down there which will only exasperate the problems. By using their leverage as statutory consultees on planning applications Highways England are trying to force the point with planners.

  20. It should be noted that the Neighbourhood Plan listed this as an issue in 2013. At that stage and in the years of work on the plan to 2019, we were periodically advised by Highways and other authorities that traffic flows did not justify major improvements. However when the former gritting depot was sold by ESCC there was a portion at the west end that was identified and marked – we retain the map – for space, when combined with whatever was necessary from the Environment Agency land at the junction, to allow any improvements either for safer pedestrian routes or changes to the road layout.


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