Published: 15:57, 01 June 2020
| Updated: 16:09, 01 June 2020
A key roundabout is getting a revamp to improve safety and recognise a town's links with the First World War.
The junction connecting A2070 Bad Munstereifel Road and Avenue Jacques Faucheux in Ashford has been renamed as Flanders Roundabout ahead of the redesign.
Eight silhouettes of soldiers, which were seen across the country during 2018's centenary celebrations, are being placed on the junction alongside nine European Quercus trees which were planted recently by the council's Aspire team.
The town’s floral tank - originally located in Vicarage Lane - will be installed in the middle of the roundabout, which is being covered in turf and surrounded by a wildflower meadow containing poppies.
But aesthetics aren't the only thing being improved, with safety at the forefront of the roadworks.
Its new name - Flanders - is also based on its design, taking inspiration from a Dutch system which has proven effective in reducing accidents.
Noting the high number of crashes on the roundabout, some unique-in-Britain features are being installed.
Bosses say the works will improve the flow of traffic and requires drivers to choose their direction before entering the roundabout.
KCC project manager Christopher Koningen said: "The design we based it on incorporates physical kerbs to ensure vehicles remain separated but on such a busy road this was not practical.
"We decided on a different approach using red surfacing with white hatching to separate lanes to encourage drivers to not cross those areas.
"It has the added benefit of allowing both lanes on the approach to the roundabout from the A2070 to be used to turn right towards the town centre, increasing capacity.
"This means the signs look different to anything else you will see in this country.”
Already the scheme has attracted widespread interest from other authorities, and the model is being considered for entry into national standards.
Cllr Andrew Buchanan, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for environment and land management, said KCC’s decision to redesign the junction led to discussions on landscaping ideas and it was agreed that it should be a memorial to the fallen of the First World War.
He said: “We decided to repurpose our floral tank which had previously been installed in Vicarage Lane in 2018 to commemorate 100th anniversary since the end of the First World War.
'It is also enabling us to celebrate our heritage and close links with the armed forces'
"It was decided to name the junction Flanders roundabout, both as a reference to the memorial and also as a nod to the low countries of Europe where this roundabout concept originates.”
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, leader of Ashford Borough Council, noted: “Not only does this scheme help to make one of Ashford’s key gateway roundabouts a safer place for motorists but it is also enabling us to celebrate our heritage and close links with the armed forces.
Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council are carrying out improvement works to five 'gateway' roundabouts around the town – the A20 Charing Hill, A20 Orchard Heights, New Street / Chart Road, Romney Marsh / Forestall Road and the newly-renamed Flanders roundabout.
These works are seeing the addition of small parking areas in the roundabouts, designed to improve workers' safety.
Elsewhere in Ashford, horse silhouettes were placed on a junction of the A20 in March, not far from the Drovers Roundabout which is famous for its black metal cows.