New Steering Group concerned about traffic issues along the A2

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06 Jun 2011
A new Steering Group comprising 9 parish councils to the east of Sittingbourne, Faversham Town Council and CPRE Protect Kent has been established because of concerns they share about traffic issues along the A2.

The parishes fear that the Core Strategy being prepared by Swale Borough Council, which will determine the amount and location of future development in the Borough for the next 20 years, does not give sufficient attention to a Borough-wide transportation strategy. Instead it will be centred on new road building intended primarily to facilitate new development, which is likely to result in more road traffic both generally and on the A2 in particular.

The A2 between Sittingbourne and Faversham is already very busy at peak times, and there are pinch points at Bapchild, Teynham and Ospringe. At Ospringe, air pollution from existing traffic has led the Borough Council to propose an Air Quality Management Area under environmental legislation. Despite this, plans for development at and around Sittingbourne are being drawn up which are likely to add yet further traffic to the road, but no attention is being given to how the impacts on the local communities along the road will be addressed.

With the recent decision by Swale’s Joint Transportation Board not to complete the Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road the Steering Group consider that a new opportunity is there for Swale Borough Council to reconsider the assumptions in the Core Strategy ‘Pick Your Own’ document about the best transport solutions for local communities.

Options in the Core Strategy currently focus on creating a ring road for Sittingbourne, and a potential new link road to the M2. The options ignore the traffic problems affecting communities along the A2 east of Sittingbourne and only pay lip service to a strategic upgrade of junction 5 on the M2/A249, which the parishes see as key highway issues for the Core Strategy to address.

Speaking for the Group, its Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston said:

“It seems that the only potential solution that the Borough and County councils see to traffic growth on the A2 is the construction of a new link road between the A2 and the M2 immediately to the south east of Sittingbourne. However, it is unclear what effect this will have on the A2, and it is of concern to the parishes that the Borough and County councils seem to have ruled out other route options if such a link road is the solution. We also find it baffling that neither council seems to have the resolve to tackle the problems at the Stockbury roundabout, the up-grading of which we believe will have Borough-wide benefits.”

The Group has had an initial meeting with councillors and officials from Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council, where it was agreed that background traffic information would be shared with the Group. The Group hope that this will be the start of a constructive and on-going dialogue, and that the Borough and County councils will embrace the new spirit of Localism and recognise the importance of this issue to the local communities along the A2 and effectively engage with them.

The Group will be considering how best to take matters forward when it receives, and has had the opportunity to evaluate the information promised.