Route March to Move Road

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15 Dec 2004

AN ARMY of householders is being formed to oppose the £40 million Northern Relief Road.

Last week's news that the long-awaited route north of Sittingbourne would become a reality appeared to be met with a unanimous sigh of relief.

The KCC road scheme will include bridges over Milton Creek and the light railway, linking Kemsley with the Eurolink industrial estate.

But people living in Church Milton are this week drumming up support for a campaign fighting the proposals.
They are furious the route skirts within yards of their back gardens, slicing through Church Marshes Country Park.

Carol Lethaby of Church Milton Community Association said: "My house backs right on to it. To put the road there is going to increase pollution, noise and light pollution. It's going to lower our whole environment.

"To add insult to injury, the road is going to be put on piers. So not only we will have to hear it and breathe it, we'll have to see it as well."

More than 100 leaflets have been put through letter boxes by the community association, warning residents of the proposals. It also quickly organised a public meeting at the Clock Tower hall last week, where 70 people signed a petition objecting to the plans.

The signatures have already been delivered to County Hall in Maidstone, where KCC's planning committee is due to consider the plan either in January or February.

Mrs Lethaby, who said the road plan did not show up on her solicitor's searches when she bought her home in Walsby Drive five years ago, was keen to stress she has nothing against the principle of the road, just the route.

"I haven't got any problem with the road going in," she said. "But it should be further over. I'm not in agreement with it going over the country park. There's lots of wildlife there."

KCC's highways advisory board is applying to build the road, but the final decision on whether or not it goes ahead will be made by elected members.
KCC spokesman Phil Scrivener said: "We will fully consider the points the residents make in their petition. This will be taken into account when the planning application is looked at in the New Year."

How effective the opposition will be remains to be seen. A Swale councillor who represents people in Church Milton told us she had heard nothing of the campaign. Kemsley ward councillor Susan Gent said: "Nobody has contacted me. As far as I know, the route on the plans is the only route." The road would relieve pressure on town centre routes, she said.

Members of the public can send their views to the head of planning applications unit, strategic planning, Invicta House, County Hall, Maidstone.

This article and photographs are used with the kind permission of The Gazette & Times