Agenda item

A274 Sutton Road Maidstone


Mr Russell Boorman, KCC’s Major Capital Programme Manager, presented this item to the Board.


Mr Russell Fitzpatrick, Planning Lawyer, Mr Rob Jarman, the Head of Planning and Development and Mr Mark Egerton, Strategic Planning Manager addressed the Board on this item.


It was noted that Councillors Barned and M Burton, Mr Alex Geeves and Mr Brian Smith-Lowther addressed the Board in objection to the recommended scheme.


The Chairman reminded Members about the urgent update which had been circulated to the Board prior to the meeting.


It was highlighted to the Board that:


·  In October 2015, the Board agreed to progress work at this junction as part of the Maidstone Integrated Transport Package.


·  In March 2016, approval was given by the KCC Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste to deliver the junction improvement at both ends of Willington Street.


·  The layout that received the Key Decision in March 2016 also required the removal of highway vegetation (which included cherry trees) to accommodate the widening of the southern side of the A274 fronting onto Bell Meadow. However, during the development of this scheme the initial layout of the junction was found to reach saturation point in the first year after construction, i.e. it would be operating beyond full capacity. Therefore a re-design was necessary to ensure that the scheme delivered the required benefits, which were to increase capacity and reduce congestion.


·  The first public engagement event was held on 18 August 2017 and it provided Officers with four common areas of concern, which were that:


o  The scheme may not achieve the benefits that it set out to do;

o  The scheme would impact the vegetation fronting Bell Meadow and Sutton Roads service roads;

o  The scheme may increase noise and air pollution; and that

o  The scheme could result in devaluation of property.


·  A further engagement event was held on 1 December 2017 to share the proposed mitigation measures and welcome further feedback.


·  Extensive design work was undertaken following public engagement with a view to addressing the concerns whilst still demonstrating a value for money scheme.


·  The urgent update provided information on bus prioritisation. It had been demonstrated that this system would not have a detrimental effect to the travelling public and could benefit those travelling in close proximity to the bus.


It was noted that the Board raised the following concerns regarding the scheme:


·  There were a large number of objections from local residents;


·  The scheme seemed out of proportion compared with the amount of congestion at the junction;


·  The scheme would exacerbate bottlenecks further down the road and would therefore impact on air quality there; and that


·  The scheme did not deal with problem of traffic turning into Willington Street from Wallis Avenue, whereby road users are blocked by the filter to turn right.


In response to questions from the Board, Mr Boorman replied that:


·  The scheme would work with and without the bus prioritisation in place.


·  A smaller scheme would not be feasible as it would not provide the benefits that were required.


RESOLVED: That the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board recommends this scheme be not accepted as currently proposed and recommends that Kent County Council be asked to amend the scheme to a smaller scale, retaining the grass verges and trees whilst paying more attention to local pinch points. It is inherent that some of the green verges will have to be removed.


Voting: For – 11   Against – 1 Abstentions – 5


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