Anger over plans to move Royal Mail offices to Patcham

Moving Royal Mail’s sorting offices to farmland will have “catastrophic” implications, say people living in the area.

Residents became aware in January of plans for a large postal distribution center on set-aside farmland just off the A27 and A23 at Vale Avenue, Patcham.

The existing sorting offices at North Road, Brighton, and Denmark Villas, Hove, would be demolished and replaced with nearly 200 flats – 110 in Brighton and the remainder in Hove.

Patcham residents have described the plans as “stunning” and say a new sorting office at Patcham Court Farm would have a negative impact on traffic and parking.

The Argus: The vast majority of Patcham residents do not want the sorting officeThe vast majority of Patcham residents do not want the sorting office

Michael Howard, who lives in Church Hill, Patcham, is among those unhappy with the “ridiculous” plan.

The 67-year-old told The Argus: “I can’t see anything positive, I think it will be disastrous if it continues.

“I’m looking at how this will affect traffic and parking, I can’t see any benefits.

“Traffic near the top of Vale Avenue at the junction of the A27 and A23 is appalling. It can be bad at any time of the day. There is practically no free parking in this area.

The Argus: An artist's rendering of the Royal Mail sorting center in PatchamArtist’s rendering of the Royal Mail Sorting Center in Patcham

“Traffic on the site will be significant with large vehicles entering and exiting. The new access to the site would be on the crossing side.

“The main reason they’re doing it is because the community has a property they want to sell, it’s a practical and money-making thing. There are other sites that are already defined as industrial sites and could be used.

“I don’t see any practical benefit for local residents, I just see enormous noise and traffic nuisance. It’s really breathtaking.”

There have been eight approaches to the site since the early 1990s, including a Royal Mail proposal in 2018.

The Argus: Councilors Alistair McNair and Anne Meadows at the derelict siteCouncil members Alistair McNair and Anne Meadows in the derelict grounds

Brighton and Hove City Council has since worked with Royal Mail “to help them develop a program which will consolidate their existing sorting office services” at the Patcham site.

Patcham Councilor Alistair McNair and Fellow District Councilor Anne Meadows were confidentially briefed on the plans on November 9 last year and started a petition on January 24 this year.

Cllr McNair said: “This development will be transformative in a very negative sense. Patcham is just a stone’s throw from the Saxon All Saints Church.

“It’s a quiet rural area, they’ll be stuck in this sorting office for decades, having little opportunity to give feedback.

‘I am concerned, once you have a large sorting office, will the allotments and Horsdean recreation area be threatened with development?

The Argus: Vale Avenue turns off the A27Vale Avenue turns off the A27

“While it may not be endangered, people will worry about it because it’s a massive change in the nature of the land up there.

“The Royal Mail has had four years to plan and residents have very little time to give their feedback.”

Previous proposals for the site have raised fears of site pollution. One was a park and ride idea.

Concerns have been raised that petrol and oil will seep into an aquifer lying beneath the site.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Our plans would create 85 employee parking spaces on site, as well as 13 motorcycle spaces and 40 bicycle spaces.

The Argus: Artist's rendering of the Patcham locationArtist’s rendering of the Patcham site

“We do not anticipate any pollution issues that have not been considered in our plans. Our proposed mitigation measures include acoustic fencing to limit the potential for noise pollution from the proposed development.

“The proposed delivery office would be carbon neutral, moving towards net zero. A fully electric vehicle fleet would be introduced.

“This proposed delivery point will allow us to continue to offer our customers the high standards they have come to expect from Royal Mail.”

The Argus: The North Road sorting office in BrightonThe North Road sorting office in Brighton

A council spokesman said: “Following two public webinars giving residents an opportunity to participate in the process, Royal Mail worked with the council and National Highways to identify the location of the entrance to the proposed development of the Patcham Court Farm to be reworked to minimize impact on local roads.

“It is important to note that issues related to parking, vehicle movement and pollution in the proposed development will be taken into account during the planning process, giving residents another opportunity to have input into the plans.

“If the sale of Patcham Court Farm to the Royal Mail goes through, it could provide an important opportunity to create hundreds of much-needed affordable housing and state-of-the-art workspace in the city centre. It would also potentially reduce the number of delivery vehicles leaving the city center and help improve air quality and CO2 emissions.”

Local residents protested against the plans at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Anger over plans to move Royal Mail offices to Patcham

Fry Electronics Team

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