Road plan is the 'most damaging'

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19 May 2010

Bypass to cut through Tonge Conservation Area

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have launched a strongly worded bid to stop a controversial road being built through green-belt land near Sittingbourne.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England's Kent branch said plans for the final phase of the Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road use "the most damaging and insensitive route that could have been selected" and called for them, to be scrapped.

Its senior planner, Brian Lloyd, has written to Kent County Council planner George Chandler setting out the group's objections to the Bapchild bypass, which, if approved, will link the Great Easthall estate in Murston to the A2 at Bapchild.

He said the proposed route would have a damaging impact on a "sensitive" piece of land, which contains "significant historical assets".

The road would cut in two the Tonge Conservation Area, which contains a mill pond, stream and the Thomas a Becket Spring, effectively destroying it.

Land used for agriculture and horse grazing would also be affected and Bapchild cricket ground would have to be moved, the letter says.

The group, the county arm of Campaign to Protect Rural England, has accused the authority of not giving people enough information during its recent public consultation period, which ended last week (May 10).

Mr Lloyd ended the letter: "It is the most damaging and insensitive route that could have been selected.
"The consultation is extremely premature and woefully inadequate... the proposal must be immediately and publicly withdrawn."

The plan is the final phase of the relief road, which, when complete, will link the A249 at Kemsley with the A2 at Bapchild.

Work on the penultimate section, linking the A249 with the Eurolink industrial estate, crossing Milton Creek and Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway, started at the end of last year.
A spokesman for Kent County Council said although the consultation period had officially ended, it was still accepting responses.

No date has been set for when a decision is likely to be made.

Jenny DeFreitas
East Kent Gazette