|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Haywards Heath (TQ318233)|
|Distance:||8.9 miles (14.3 km)|
|Meets:||A272, B2036, A2300, B2036, B2116, B2112, A23|
|Former Number(s):||B2028, B2036|
|Old route now:||B2036|
|Route outline (key)|
The A273 is a north-south road in mid-Sussex. It serves Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, and Hassocks, linking them to Brighton, though the A23 does a better job of this.
Section 1: Haywards Heath – Burgess Hill
The start of the A273 has changed twice since 1990, with it originally terminating with a T-Junction with the A272 against Bulter's Green Road. A new section of road was built in the 1990s between the A272 and at the time a part of the B2184 (Chownes Mead Road) which would become the Western end of the Haywards Heath Bypass that the A272 would take around Haywards Heath. When the bypass was completed in October 2015 the start of the A273 was moved back half a kilometre to the first roundabout on the bypass where it joins the original route of the A273. The first kilometer of the road is subjected to a 40 mph speed limit as it twists through woodland with houses along the edges.
About half way way to Burgess Hill we get to a sharp bend in the road with a recommended max speed on 30 mph on a section of the road which is 50 mph. As we reach two thirds of the way to Burgess Hill we reach another sharp bend again with a recommended maximum speed of 30 mph in a 50 mph zone. After we leave this we are greeted with NSL which lasts for a short while before reaching Burgess Hill where it drops to 30 mph before reaching a set of closely spaced roundabouts separated by a small stream. At the first, the B2036 joins us while the second marks the start of the Burgess Hill bypass.
In 2019 the plans for the Northern Arc housing project where published which would add 3,000 homes to the northern side of Burgess Hill, including both sides of the A273. Part of the plan is a new secondary road going east to west called the Northern Arc Avenue which would have a traffic light controlled intersection with the A273. The plans would also suggest that the entire length of the NSL zone would become a 30 mph zone. The Northern Arc would start development in 2020 and finish in 2032.
As with many towns, Burgess Hill was transformed from a small rural village to busy country town by the arrival of the London to Brighton railway. A second phase of expansion began in the 1950s lasting approximately 10 years with the original population almost doubled by the beginning of the 1960s. More recently, during the 1990s, the town was again targeted for expansion bringing with it the bypass and the new link to the A23 (the A2300).
The original route through Burgess Hill has now reverted back to the B2036 number, while we turn right at the second roundabout and enter the bypass This takes the form of a semicircle around the western side of Burgess Hill punctuated by five roundabouts. At the time of writing it has a 40 mph limit although when it opened some parts were NSL. Anyway, the first just gives access to one of the many housing estates bordering the town side of the ring road, whilst the second provides access to the Triangle leisure centre on the left and the A2300 link road to the A23 on the right. A secondary school is also on the right, although a pedestrian underpass is being provided to take students under the road. Northern Arc would also introduce a new roundabout between the current second and third roundabouts which would terminate the Northern Arc Avenue which previously crossed the A273. The third roundabout again serves more housing with the fourth providing access to an industrial estate and the fifth giving access to a Tesco superstore.
Section 2: Burgess Hill – Pyecombe
We rejoin our original route at another roundabout and the South Downs can be seen in the distance. After a mile or so we bend round to join the course of a Roman road that has been running parallel to us ever since Haywards Heath. This coincides with our entry to the village of Hassocks. As with many towns and villages the settlement owes its existence to a station, originally named Hassocks Gate after a farm adjacent to a toll gate on what is now the B2116. We gradually climb uphill to a traffic-light-controlled crossroads with the B2116 itself running on the course of a Roman road at this point. To the left lies Hassocks station and most of the housing with a few shops. Although Hassocks itself is quite small, to the east of the railway it merges into Keymer village and turning right takes you to Hurstpierpoint, another village whose size is related to the growth of commuting.
Shortly after the cross roads we leave Hassocks, passing a garden centre on the left as we head for the South Downs. We cross the London to Brighton railway at a hamlet called Clayton and those who glance to the right as we cross the bridge will get to see the castellated portal to Clayton tunnel complete with timber cottage located between the two towers. Once over the railway we are joined by the B2112 and start to climb. Unlike the A23 this road goes straight up the downs and is lined by trees with occasional glances of the ventilation shafts for the railway below us. Towards the top the road enters a cutting (presumably cut to try to reduce the gradient) again lined by trees. Having reached the summit we descend towards the A23 at Pyecombe. The road becomes dual and the next right turn leads to north-facing sliproads for that road; we continue ahead to join the southbound A23 and provide a third lane for the gradual descent into Brighton. Before the upgrading of the A23 there was a set of traffic lights here instead.
The A273 dates from the mid 1960s and the expansion of Burgess Hill. The northern section was originally part of the B2028 and the section from Burgess Hill to Pyecombe, the B2036. When Burgess Hill was bypassed the B2036 took over the old road through town, restoring the original number to this section of road.