A long-awaited new slip-road off the A2 could finally be built as fresh plans for the £8.8 million project have been unveiled.
An initial proposal for the junction in Canterbury was given the green light in 2018 but planning permission lapsed before any construction could take place.
Now, a new application has been submitted by Barratt David Wilson Homes (BDW), which is compelled to fund the slip-road as part of its development of a nearby housing estate.
It is hoped the junction, which will bring Dover-bound traffic off the A2 into the city at Wincheap, will alleviate traffic issues along the A28 and reduce pressure on the ring-road.
But critics claim the new exit slip will simply add to congestion.
BDW has to build the junction before the 450th property at its 750-home Saxon Fields development in Thanington is occupied.
In papers submitted to Canterbury City Council (CCC), it says the new slip-road will “contribute to the overall better management of the roads in the vicinity of the city centre”.
It adds: “In recent years, an A2 London bound on slip road has been provided at Wincheap, and this has allowed some relief to the busy western section of the inner ring road, as traffic can exit the city centre more quickly along the A28 corridor.
“However, the missing eastbound off-slip road means that traffic travelling into the city centre continues to use the A2 exit at Harbledown, and then has to distribute to the wider area via the inner ring road, predominantly using Rheims Way.
“Even traffic heading for Wincheap has to use this route, travelling further in towards the city centre than is necessary before heading out again to reach its destination.”
As well as currently piling pressure on Harbledown and the ring-road, traffic trying to enter the city from the M2 and Brenley Corner also filters through Bridge – often leading to tailbacks on the A2 both ways during rush hour.
Vehicles coming off at the new Wincheap junction will be able to access both the Ashford-bound and Canterbury-bound A28 carriageways as well as providing direct access to Ten Perch Road, Morrisons, the Wincheap park and ride site and the Wincheap Industrial Estate.
The slip-road will connect the A2 to Ten Perch Road and the A28 by serving as an additional arm at the existing set of traffic signals.
As part of the reconfiguration, the roundabout serving Morrisons and Wincheap Retail Park would be removed, while another further up the road would be made bigger.
This would allow traffic using the superstore to turn back on itself – with cars being unable to make a right turn into the car park from Ten Perch Road.
Alongside this, a new one-way gyratory system in Wincheap has already been given the green light, but work has yet to start on the controversial project.
It will see city-bound traffic diverted through the industrial estate along Simmonds Road, while the main A28 would be restricted to vehicles heading out of Canterbury, as well as buses and bicycles travelling both ways.
Work was planned to start in January this year and be completed by autumn, but the project has yet to get underway.
It is being funded by Redrow, which must have the new system active before the 35th property on its 400-home development at nearby Cockering Farm is occupied.
The firm’s head of technical, Glenn Holliday, said: “We are progressing with the plans at Wincheap as part of our overall planning consent with Canterbury City Council.
“Unfortunately, the works will be delivered on a later schedule than originally anticipated due to delays in planning approval. However, once received, the works will be delivered in line with the granted plans and the timescale for the project will be determined once works are able to begin.”
Wincheap city councillor Dane Buckman (Lab) says he has arranged to meet with council officers to discuss both of the projects, which were first unveiled before his election to CCC.
He has also called for developers host in-person meetings to discuss the schemes, telling KentOnline: “My main concerns would be how [the slip-road] ties in with the gyratory scheme. Will the residents of Wincheap and Thanington be subject to months of roadworks, dust and noise? How will this be mitigated?
“We saw the chaos from when the road was completely shut due to the gas main repairs. With the cuts to bus services, how many buses will actually be using the gyratory? Buses finish far too early going out of Canterbury towards Thanington.
“How will the projects impact the water meadows and marshes? How will this affect businesses?
“I am also concerned that other areas of Wincheap could suffer worse traffic with drivers using other roads as rat runs. I would hope that calming traffic measures and one-way systems are looked at, but not to the detriment of the residents.
“The gyratory system needs to have loading bays for the shops and safe road crossing designations. We will have to see what is in the safety audit.
“Communication between developers, the council and residents is key. Some residents are new to the area and would not know what is going on.
“Architect plans are not always easy to understand.”
BDW says the A2 slip-road is designed to connect with the new gyratory system through Wincheap.
Designs show it will cut across a section of council-owned land currently occupied by the Wincheap park and ride. The authority says it will need to “make a decision on whether we make the land available for the project in due course".
BDW is legally required to provide the junction as part of developer contributions attached to planning permission for the Saxon Fields estate, which is also known as Thanington Park.
Pentland Homes secured the approval and built 179 of the 750 homes before selling the remaining phases in 2021 to BDW, which as part of the deal also inherited the obligation to build the slip-road.
Natalie Perry, sales and marketing director for BDW, said: “The delivery of a new eastbound off slip on the A2 was always planned as part of the wider Thanington Park development.
“The initial planning approval lapsed in 2018, and BDW Kent has now taken on this obligation. However, the application is in its early stages, and we are working closely with the local authority to progress this accordingly.”
A Pentland Homes spokeswoman said: “Pentland Homes has recently completed the first phase of the Saxon Fields, Thanington Park development, which equates to 179 dwellings of the permitted 750 dwellings. All of Pentland Homes new houses have now been occupied.
“Pentland Homes sold the remaining housing phases - 571 dwellings - to Barratt David Wilson in 2021.
“BDW as the new ‘owner’ is now responsible for discharging the obligations contained in the Legal Agreement (s106) Thanington Park Development.”
A CCC spokesman says a public consultation on the A2 slip-road plans will run until December 22.
"All comments received, including those of Kent County Council as the highways authority and Highways England as the authority responsible for the A2, will be considered when we come to take a decision,” he added.
"As it's our role to determine the application, it wouldn't be appropriate for us to make any further comment at the current time."