MOVING Royal Mail sorting offices to farmland will have a “catastrophic” impact, say people living in the area.

Residents became aware in January of plans for a large mail distribution centre on the disused farmland just off the A27 and A23 in Vale Avenue, Patcham.

The existing sorting offices in North Road, Brighton, and Denmark Villas, Hove, would be demolished and replaced with nearly 200 homes - 110 in Brighton and the rest in Hove. 

Patcham residents have described the plans as “breathtaking” and say a new sorting office on 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 who are unhappy with the “ridiculous” plan.

The 67-year-old told The Argus: “I can’t see any positives, I think it will be catastrophic if it goes ahead.

“I’m looking at what the effect will be in terms of traffic and parking, I can’t see any benefits.

“The traffic near the top of Vale Avenue at the A27 and A23 intersection is horrendous. It can be bad at any time of the day. There is basically zero free parking in this area.

The Argus: An artist's impression of the Royal Mail sorting centre in PatchamAn artist's impression of the Royal Mail sorting centre in Patcham

“The traffic using the site will be significant with large vehicles coming in and out. The new entrance to the site would be on the junction side.

“The main reason they’re doing it is because the council have a plot of land they would like to sell, it’s a convenient and money-making thing. There are other sites which are already defined as industrial and could be used.

“I can’t see any practical benefit for local residents, I can only see it being a huge inconvenience with noise and traffic. It’s breathtaking really.”

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

The Argus: Councillors Alistair McNair and Anne Meadows at the derelict siteCouncillors Alistair McNair and Anne Meadows at the derelict site

Brighton and Hove City Council has since worked in collaboration with Royal Mail “to assist them in developing a scheme which consolidates their existing sorting office services” to the site in Patcham.

Patcham councillor Alistair McNair along with fellow ward councillor Anne Meadows were given confidential notice of the plans on November 9 last year and started a petition on January 24 this year.

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

“It’s a quiet rural area, they will be stuck with this sorting office for decades having had very little chance to give feedback.

“I’m worried once you have a large sorting office, will the allotments and Horsdean recreation ground be at risk of development?

The Argus: The Vale Avenue turn off leading from the A27The Vale Avenue turn off leading from the A27

“Although it might not be at risk, people will worry about that because it’s a massive change to the type of land that is up there.

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

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

Concerns were raised about petrol and oil seeping into an aquifer which lies beneath the site.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Our plans would create 85 staff parking spaces on site, as well as 13 motorcyle spaces and 40 bicycle spaces.

The Argus: Artist impression of the site in PatchamArtist impression of the site in Patcham

"We anticipate no pollution problems that haven’t been accounted for in our plans. Our proposed mitigation measures include acoustic fencing to limit the potential for any noise pollution from the planned development.

"The proposed delivery office would be carbon neutral, on the road to net zero. A fully electric fleet of vehicles would be introduced.

"This proposed delivery office will enable us to continue offering our customers the high standards they expect from Royal Mail."

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

A council spokesman said: “After two public webinars where residents had the opportunity to feed into the process, the Royal Mail worked with the Council and National Highways to revise the location of the entrance to the proposed Patcham Court Farm development to minimise the impact on local roads.

“It is important to note that issues relating to parking, vehicle movements and pollution at the proposed development will be considered through the planning process, giving residents a further opportunity to feed into the plans.

“If the sale of Patcham Court Farm to the Royal Mail goes ahead, this potentially offers an important opportunity to create hundreds of desperately needed affordable homes as well as state of the art work spaces in the city centre. It would also potentially decrease delivery vehicles from the city centre too helping to improve air quality and carbon emissions.”

Residents will be holding a protest against the plans on Sunday at 11.30am.