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Newtown Road in Ashford to close again next year for Designer Outlet expansion

By Georgia Woolf

A main road which has finally reopened today will close for a further 10 weeks next year.

Drivers have faced eight months of traffic hell after contractors shut Newtown Road in April as part of the Designer Outlet expansion.

The closure was lifted today, but bosses now say an additional two-and-a-half month closure will be needed next spring.

The site this week
The site this week

Cllr David Smith, ward member for South Willesborough, says residents have had enough.

He said: "We thought this would all be over and done with this week, but now they're thinking of closing it again for traffic calming measures.

"The authorities haven't engaged with us about it - it's only because I looked into it, after hearing a few whispers, that I know about it.

The outlet this week. Picture: Paul Amos
The outlet this week. Picture: Paul Amos

"I was expecting there would be some delays with roadworks, but didn't think they would close the road again.

"Taxi fares have rocketed for people because they're having to go the long way round; it is affecting those that can least afford it."

The works are part of the £90 million expansion of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, which will see 50 new shops added to the site.

Work at the site this week
Work at the site this week

Contractors shut the junction with Romney Marsh Road in April to remove two roundabouts and fit traffic lights instead.

In an email sent to Cllr Smith from Ashford Borough Council, deputy head of community safety and wellbeing, Jo Fox, confirmed the road will be shut again next April.

She said: "I can confirm that there will be a further closure for 10 weeks that will be to deal with traffic calming and this is likely to start at the end of April 2019.

Cllr David Smith is disappointed about the second closure
Cllr David Smith is disappointed about the second closure

"The dates are down to the Designer Outlet requirements rather than the developers' timeframe.

"The application for this road closure will not be submitted to KCC until 2019.

"KCC has emphasised the need for there to be communications with all stakeholders when further dates are confirmed."

The road has been closed since April
The road has been closed since April

Ahead of the eight-month closure this year, transport chiefs at Ashford Borough Council (ABC) said they did not know Newtown Road would be closed for eight months until reading about it in the Kentish Express.

Peter Corr, manager of the Designer Outlet, said the extra closure will be needed next year to complete the works.

He said: "While Newtown Road will reopen on Friday, McLaren and Walkers Construction have advised that in order to complete the works in their entirety, there will be a final element that must be finished, which could involve an additional closure for a shorter period of time next spring.

50 new units will be added in the outlet expansion
50 new units will be added in the outlet expansion

"We are currently in discussions to determine the easiest, safest and most efficient way to complete the remaining road improvement works with minimal disruption to residents and commuters.

"As soon as a decision has been reached we will share further information."

The current closure was due to be lifted on Wednesday, but was pushed back to today due to poor weather, according to the Designer Outlet.

The outlet extension, which is costing £90m, is set to open next spring.

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