Published: 10:34, 16 May 2019
| Updated: 12:30, 17 May 2019
Plans for the first phase of work on an ambitious link-road scheme to ease congestion at the Sturry level crossing have finally been submitted to county planners.
The £30m relief road will stretch 1.5km and 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.
The long-awaited road is hoped to halve the number of cars using the level crossing - currently a staggering 21,380 every day.
An outline plan was backed by Kent County Council last year but this latest application marks the first step towards work starting, if approval is given.
The proposal includes alterations to the A28 Island Road/A291 Sturry Hill junction and the widening of Shalloak Road.
Objectors argue the project will not be completed in time for the influx of cars generated from new sprawling housing estates and will have little impact on congestion anyway.
They also question the funding, stating a developer has to build and sell hundreds of homes before they have to contribute money towards the road.
But new city council leader Cllr Robert Thomas says the sooner it is built the better and that houses cannot be built without this infrastructure in place.
He said: “We all know what it’s like in Canterbury at peak times coming in from Sturry and Herne Bay. We know that the railroad crossings cause congestion and the problems that can bring.
“With this bypass it will enable vehicles to pass without waiting for trains. The challenge remains to ensure sustainable transport is supported and that the environmental impact is well managed assuming final approval is given.”
But Ann Davis, planning expert and Sturry parish councillor, warns that even with a new relief road, there will still be huge amounts of traffic coming down the A291 and the A28.
“This will converge and still produce a bottleneck at the new roundabout,” she said.
“At the moment, It looks as though the traffic coming along the A291 will have priority over the A28, which means during peak times the traffic coming along the A28 is likely to be held up, just as it is now.
“If they put traffic lights in then the two routes will alternate, but people will still be held up at the lights as they were held up at the crossing.”
The link road is being funded largely through developer contributions. Cllr Davis fears money earmarked for community facilities will instead be pumped into the transport scheme.
'Crackpot' housing plans
Campaigners against "crackpot" plans for hundreds of new homes say developers are denying people proper community facilities.
Revised outline plans for 650 homes in Sturry have been submitted - one of two amended schemes, the other in Broad Oak, with a combined total of 1,106 homes.
This is in addition to 1,320 already planned or being built on three sites off Island Road in Hersden.
'The developers are pushing ahead with crackpot plans for crammed housing with inadequate facilities' - campaigner David Wadmore
A public meeting was held on Friday by the Sturry and Broad Oak Planning Working Group asking people to give their views ahead of the parish council’s response to the Sturry housing plan.
Parish councillor Ann Davis argues the amended scheme for 650 houses shows little community provision.
"We should have had a community centre built, they're just giving us a site; we’re asking them for pre-school provision of which we are very short, but they are not providing that; there’s no sports ground provided and the open space is of such poor quality it ought to be written off as being suitable.
“A decision was also made by the CCG not to have a medical centre here but for the developers to make an off-site contribution which we believe will be invested in the centre at Northgate.”
She says the overriding concern for residents is traffic and that the impact of all the developments in the area is not being looked at as a whole.
“We feel a bit like Cinderella in the planning system,” she said.
David Wadmore added: “The developers are pushing ahead with crackpot plans for crammed housing with inadequate facilities.”