Published: 10:02, 05 October 2021
| Updated: 10:31, 05 October 2021
A closure-hit section of the A20 in Ashford will shut AGAIN next week as work starts on the installation of traffic lights at the entrance to a new housing estate.
Kent County Council is to close the stretch between the Pilgrims Hospice and Tesco Extra in both directions for almost two-and-a-half months from Monday.
It will be the latest in a series of disruptions on the busy route, which links Junctions 10 and 10a but has been closed numerous times in the last two years.
Contractor Tamdown Ltd will be fitting traffic lights outside the 192-home Hinxhill Park estate, but councillors living nearby say they can't understand why the road will need to stay closed until Wednesday, December 22.
Willesborough councillor Liz Wright, who lives in Mill Lane, says the traffic lights at the junction with Honeysuckle Avenue are "certainly necessary".
"They are good news from a safety point of view on that difficult stretch of road, but residents have been inconvenienced for long enough and I don't know why it should take so long," the Green Party representative said.
"Without the lights, cars would just be speeding out of the roundabout by Tesco and it would be very difficult for anyone trying to get out of the housing development.
"It will certainly make that junction safer but it seems like a very long closure."
Cllr Steve Campkin, who also represents Willesborough for the Greens alongside Cllr Wright, says the work should have been carried out during one of the previous closures.
The most recent disruption came in July when the stretch was closed for two weeks to allow contractors to install an electricity supply for the new estate.
Cllr Campkin, of High Trees Close, said: "It seems to have been shut more than it has been open.
"People are already fed-up with the Junction 10a works, the queues for fuel, and the Sevington lorry park that we were not consulted on.
"We could do with a bit more joined-up thinking; they obviously knew the plan was to put traffic lights in at some point, so it should have been done before."
Plans for the Hinxhill Park estate, which is being built by Belway Homes, were approved in 2017.
At the time, bosses said the aim was to create an “integrated and sustainable neighbourhood” containing a green corridor for cyclists and pedestrians and a football field.
Neighbours in The Street feared the consequences of the development in their historic lane, which includes The Blacksmiths Arms pub and the 17th century Warren Cottage Guest House.
The homes, which range from two to five-bed properties, cost between £354,995 and £589,995.
This week, Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con), the deputy leader of Ashford Borough Council, said he welcomes the arrival of traffic lights.
"It's best the traffic lights are put in from the outset as when the new residents move in, they will get grumpy very quickly if it's difficult to exit the estate," the Cheeseman's Green Lane resident said.
"It takes years to retrospectively fit them (it took 11 years to get the traffic lights put in at Barrey Road, and eight years to get them at Finberry) so the council is on the front foot."
Due to the nature of the works, KCC says the A20 will not be reopening outside of working hours, with drivers instead told to use a diversion on the A2070 link road.
Work to replace the existing Orbital Park roundabout with lights was expected to start in the summer, but KCC is enforcing a ‘Christmas roadworks embargo’ to keep the route clear over the festive season.
FM Conway workers have moved onto the site but are currently only focusing on land off the main A2070.