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Newtown Road closure lifted after more than 11 weeks of travel disruption

After causing months of disruption, the Newtown Road works have been completed.

The effort to build a new crossing and traffic light system has caused 11-and-a-half weeks of extended journeys for Newtown residents.

Despite being closed for eight months last year, contractors shut the junction by Ashford Designer Outlet again in May for what was estimated to be 10 weeks.

One of the first cars to use the re-opened road (14509466)
One of the first cars to use the re-opened road (14509466)

However this schedule was pushed back by two weeks allegedly due to "substantial rainfall", leading to more annoyance from nearby residents.

Bus routes have been impacted, some taxi companies refused to pick up fares from the area and car journeys have taken longer.

The newly re-opened road is now publicly usable, three days ahead of its latest estimated completion date of Friday, August 2.

Speaking about the issues the work has caused, Joe Ripley - from Alfred Road - said: "It's been an inconvenience because it's extra travel for us, seeing as how we have to go all the way around.

New traffic lights and pedestrian crossings have been installed on the junction to Newtown Road from the A2042 (14509462)
New traffic lights and pedestrian crossings have been installed on the junction to Newtown Road from the A2042 (14509462)

"It's also affecting traffic in the area and you've got to allow an extra half hour for journeys, sometimes longer depending on the time of day.

"I hope it won't close again, that's twice now already.

"It's not about compensating people but that question is being raised. There's been nothing from the Outlet, despite the last nine months of disruption bringing about a lot of expenses like fuel and time.

"They've offered no discounts at the Outlet, which they could've offered to nearby residents who've been affected.

The work has taken 11-and-a-half weeks (14509464)
The work has taken 11-and-a-half weeks (14509464)

"They've not been very professional. I think it's same view as most other people. It wouldn't be so bad if they compensated us.

"There's been very poor communication from the Outlet. They only share their plans when people kicked off."

The roadworks, which also saw pedestrian walkways upgraded, have been carried out by Walker Construction and McLaren Construction- the latter hired as the main contractor on Ashford Designer Outlet's £90 million expansion.

"They've not been very professional..." Joe Ripley, Newtown resident

Other people shared the view that shopping centre chiefs should have compensated nearby residents.

Deborah Baker, also of Alfred Road, said: "I'm just really fed up, it's a joke.

"It's just a pain whenever you go out you've got to go the other way, which is when you hit traffic.

"It's an increase in our fuel costs and adds wear-and-tear to cars. I think McArthurGlen should give us compensation but we won't get that.

Restrictive and ever-changing pedestrian paths added time to pedestrians' commutes as well as drivers'
Restrictive and ever-changing pedestrian paths added time to pedestrians' commutes as well as drivers'

"I just wonder if they're going to close it again?"

Newtown Green homeowner Gareth Jones said: "It's taking the mick already.

"It's affecting businesses quite a lot.

"I've got to go the long way round for work, which is a longer distance and is always very busy due to the roadworks on the dual carriageway. It's been horrendous."

Community initiatives were set up over the construction work's duration, hoping to alleviate the isolation of older residents.

Eric Parkinson hopes this will be last closure of the junction (14509458)
Eric Parkinson hopes this will be last closure of the junction (14509458)

Newtown Parish Councillor Eric Parkinson said: "It's very inconvenient, especially around here, because you have elderly residents and it's very difficult for them to get to the shops.

"One man nearby has got one leg, so it's not as if he can easily walk to the shops.

"We actually did a scheme where we got in contact with someone who could let us use a minibus, and twice a week we had it on free-of-charge.

"We'd bring them down to the shop which we thought would be a good alternative to them getting a taxi or a bus, which are still not great because they have to carry shopping. It's not fantastic.

"What we can't understand is that it was closed for a number of weeks, then they tell us they are going to close it for another 10 weeks, then another two weeks for something most of us thought could have been done in the original time.

The Ashford Designer Outlet extension is set to be complete by autumn
The Ashford Designer Outlet extension is set to be complete by autumn

"If someone would've sat down and thought about it, that would have stopped the inconvenience of having to do it twice.

"If they'd have done what they are doing now when it was closed before, even if they'd closed it for a little longer, it would've been an inconvenience but at least it would've only been closed once.

"Everyone's hopeful it won't need to be closed again."

The project aimed to improve access to the Outlet's £90 million extension, which is scheduled to fully open in Autumn.

A new Food Piazza will be built and 50 retail units are set to be added to the current offering.

An Outlet spokeswoman said: "We are pleased to confirm that Newtown Road in Ashford is now open for road users, with full pedestrian access being available from August 2."

Last month, six labourers working on the extension were detained by Immigration Enforcement officers following a tip-off that illegal immigrants were employed on the site.

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