Relief road plans lead to clash over congestion

14 Oct 2011

BUILDING the Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road (SSRR) will not necessarily stop congestion in the borough.

A computerised model shows traffic growth would increase by between 32 and 38 per cent over the next 20 years if the road were to be built, compared with a 30 per cent increase if it was not.

George Chandler, regeneration projects manager for Kent County Council, presented the results at a meeting of the local development framework panel last week.

While the study focused on Sittingbourne and the A249 corridor up to and including Sheerness, the findings were based on comparing options one and three of the council's core strategy planning document.

Option three includes the completion of the SSRR, 13,500 new houses, 2,500 new jobs at Kent Science Park and 2,000 new jobs at Sheerness Port.

Option one includes the same number of new homes being built, existing employment commitments, a focus on urban areas and the Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road completed up to Bap-child.

Swale council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles (Con) says the construction of the SSRR would improve traffic on the A2 to the east of Bapchild and benefit communities in Oad Street, Tunstall, Rodmersham and Bredgar.

He also believes it would bring benefits to traffic flows at Junction 5 of the M2.
But Bapchild parish councillor Andy Hudson says Cllr Bowles is in denial about what the model really shows.

'Ring of havoc'

He said: "The Southern Relief Road would sort out the town centre and create a ring of havoc around it. "It doesn't really solve any of the problems, even the first model shows problems which haven't been resolved by the SSRR.

"They've had a go, it didn't work, now we've got to come up with something else. We're not saying don't do anything... it's just that the answer is not the relief road."

Cllr Bowles said councillors were pleased to see Mr Chandler's results, which they will use as they continue to plan the borough's transport future.

By Hayley Robinson, Kent Messenger