Questions/Statements by members of the public
Ms Sue Cooke asked a question of the Chairman in the following terms:
Severe traffic congestion has been caused on Hermitage Lane and the A20 by the poorly designed junction at the new Aldi and McDonalds retail park.
There has been a huge response on Streetlife and 34,000 likes and 2-300 comments on Facebook, from locals, businesses and hospital workers alike.
What is Kent Highways planning to do to resolve this congestion and the resultant pollution?
The Chairman provided the following response:
A new signal controlled junction has recently been introduced on Hermitage Lane close to the A20 London Road. This is to serve a new mini retail complex including an Aldi and McDonalds.
During the planning process for the site, we advised the applicant and planning authority (Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council) that a number of measures would be needed to improve access and minimise congestion. These included linking the site access signals to co-ordinate with nearby junctions, provision of a new signal controller and SCOOT loops and alterations to lane markings and signing at the Coldharbour roundabout. We subsequently learnt the planning conditions did not refer to the need for the applicant to deliver these measures.
Subsequently, we have been working closely with the Borough Council and the applicant has now agreed to provide them. We are now working with the applicant’s consultant to ensure the measures can be delivered at the earliest opportunity. The consultants have sought quotes from BT and the plan is to complete the work alongside their S278 snagging list. We have asked for a clearly defined programme to complete the works.
Observations of the operation of the new junction have also shown there are significantly more vehicles turning right into the development, than the number per cycle identified in the traffic assessment. This is blocking southbound traffic on Hermitage Lane and is causing congestion back along the A20 London Road as well as a queue extending towards the hospital for northbound traffic. The displacement of traffic across the town due to the on-going Bridges Gyratory roadworks is also known to be having an effect on traffic levels in this area.
In view of this, we have identified a number of further potential measures which could be taken to reduce congestion. The applicant has declined to carry out this further work. We have gone back to them to propose a limited widening scheme which can be completed as part of their snagging work at our expense.
In the longer term the County Council has secured Government funding to implement a package of junction improvement schemes at either end of Hermitage Lane and to improve access to the M20. This includes improvements to A26/ Fountain Lane junction and Hermitage Lane/ Duke of Edinburgh junction and A20/ Hermitage Lane, A20/ Coldharbour and M20 Junction 5. These schemes are now undergoing detailed design.
Ms Cooke asked a supplementary question that, in view of the response received, how could the situation be prevented from occurring again.
The KCC Strategic Transport and Development replied that KCC would continue to work with planning authorities to raise concerns and keep highways matters at the forefront of developments.