Road funding welcome as building costs spiral
08 Dec 2004THE NORTHERN Relief Road has been seen as lynch-pin of Swale's commercial future. It is also one of the biggest road-building plans in Kent. Ultimately, the route will link the A249 at Grovehurst with the A2 east of Bapchild.
But progress in planning the road has not been smooth. Its cost has rocketed to more than £40 million, eclipsing more modest estimates. The Government had already ploughed £10.4 million into the plan, with another £4.1 million developer funding..
Swale Council leader Cllr Andrew Bowles welcomed the additional funding, announced last week, saying: "This is excellent news and a major milestone and achievement for Swale Forward and its partners. It provides the trigger for the development and delivery of a number of key initiatives that will bring lasting improvements for communities across Swale."
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Derek Wyatt was also delighted with the news and said the road would help the rest of the Swale Forward development plans.
He said: "This road is the key. Swale Council was very apprehensive at the Thames Gateway Forum about getting the money.
"This is more than just a road. It will bump-start the whole development of Sittingbourne, the new commercial development, the new railway station, everything."
Work on the first section between Grovehurst roundabout and Ridham Avenue, Kemsley, is due to finish in January.
Swale Council will shortly consider KCC's planning application to build the Ridham Avenue, to Castle Road, Kemsley, phase.
The plan is likely to come under close scrutiny from environmental groups due to its proximity to Church Marshes Country Park.
In announcing the funding, the Department for Transport con-ceded "the scheme has some adverse environmental impacts."
This article and photographs are used with the kind permission of The Gazette & Times