Funding gap remains for town road

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21 Jan 2011
Funding still needs to be found to finish a road that will ease pressure on the town centre network.

Gordon Henderson MP Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson announced in November last year that funding had been secured for the final part of the Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road (SNRR) to link Ridham Avenue, Kemsley, with Castle Road, Sittingbourne, and the stretch linking it to the A2 at Bapchild.

But he misinterpreted a government statement as he has now received a letter from the Department of Transport confirming that only funding for the stretch of road from Ridham Avenue to Castle Road, including the Milton Creek crossing, is secure.

In the letter, transport minister Norman Baker said any plans to further extend the SNRR to join up with the A2 are a matter for Kent County Council.

"Such plans have never formed a part of the specific scheme submitted by KCC for government funding," he said.

Mr Henderson said: "Following queries by local people, I wrote to the Secretary of State Philip Hammond to confirm exactly which parts were included in his announcement. While I am disappointed the final part of the SNRR is not included in the current scheme, I am delighted that at least funding is secure for the Ridham Avenue to Castle Road section.

"Once it is complete, the SNRR will provide traffic from the Eurolink with a direct route to the A249. Hopefully, this will relieve the pressure on town centre roads."

George Chandler, regeneration and projects manager for KCC, said: "At the moment we are completing our evaluation of the consultation processes undertaken last year.

"A report is to be prepared for the Swale Joint Transportation Board in March, when members will be invited to debate the issues and determine a way forward for the project."

There are three route options for the final section. One is for it to come in on the Faversham side of Bapchild and join the East Hall Farm estate, the other follows a similar line but comes off at the Sittingbourne end of Bapchild and the third is to run both and have a roundabout, effectively creating a Bapchild bypass.

It is estimated the work will cost between £15 million and £45 million.

Hayley Robinson
Kent Messenger