Published: 12:15, 17 May 2018
| Updated: 12:30, 17 May 2018
A long-awaited plan to ease congestion at the Sturry level crossing is a step closer with the approval of a new relief road this week.
The county council has given its backing to a new £30 million by-pass which will largely be funded by housing developments planned in the village and surrounding area.
The scheme is for a new 1.5km road which will link the A291 Sturry Hill with the A28 near the sewage treatment plant and include a 250 metre viaduct over the railway line and river Stour,
Around 21,000 vehicles use the level crossing every day which the KCC expects to halve when the link road opens in 2021/22.
Cllr Andrew Cook (Cons), who lives in Sturry , told the county council's environment and transportation committee on Tuesday that villagers had campaigned for such a proposal to reduce traffic for decades.
He said: “The bypass was always a big ask and a big request from the villagers," he said.
“I’m sure this is not going to be to every resident’s liking but a compromise has to be drawn somewhere and I think we are pretty much there.”
KCC's head of transportation, Tim Read, told members: “We did an extensive public consultation but schemes of this nature always generate a degree of controversy and debate.
“Nearly 67% of the respondents agreed with the principle of the link road but I appreciate it has some environmental side effects.
“I think overall the principal of this scheme I would highly recommend is approved so we can get this done quickly. We can argue the finer details at a later date as we progress."
The relief road is a requirement of plans for the 1,000 homes planned on the former Greenfields shooting ground and Broad Oak as well as a further 400 homes in Hersden and designed to cope with the extra traffic.
It will involve three new roundabout junctions and six new pedestrian crossings as well as a change in traffic priorities near the level crossing.
But it has been branded a 'mad solution' and "a load of tosh" on a local Facebook group with accusations that residents will become prisoners in their own village
A particularly unpopular feature of the layout is that traffic, except buses, travelling down Island Road will have to go up Sturry Hill to a roundabout and back down to the crossing to access the village centre.
The proposals were put out to public consultation last year and on Tuesday the KCC's environment and transportation committee approved its preferred option. But the scheme will still require detailed planning permission.
But concerns have been raised on the new Sturry and Broad Oak Village Community Coming Together Facebook group about how the new road layout will work and the effect it will have on access to the village centre businesses.
The forum was started recently by local resident David Wadmore who said: "What we have ended up with is the least worse option with the potential for massive queues. Putting a link road through a housing estate is a bad decision. To be honest, there were better sites at Hersden for more housing.
"We couldn't have had a madder solution if we tried and I think the council has got itself in a complete muddle with this one."