Published: 16:20, 25 January 2022
Controversial plans for cycle lanes through Cheriton have been scrapped after Kent County Council promised to go 'back to the drawing board' on active travel.
The proposed bicycle route would have run along the B2064 from the Cheriton High Street junction with Risborough Lane to Cheriton Road and on to Folkestone Central station.
But the scheme would have seen a significant reduction in parking on the high street - leading traders to launch a campaign against the plans and a petition which collected more than 2,500 signatures.
Cheriton county councillor Rory Love, who helped organise public meetings on the topic in the autumn, welcomed the decision to scrap this and two other active travel schemes in the county.
"I'm in favour of the council promoting cycling and walking," he said, "but not at the expense of nearly half of the roadside parking in a busy high street and the loss of half a dozen mature trees.
"This parking is essential for the passing trade as well as for making larger purchases. There's no point in being able to walk or cycle to the high street if there are no shops left.
"My colleague Cllr Dylan Jeffrey and I have committed to work with the cabinet member and highways officers to see if alternative proposals can be drawn up which safeguard the economic vibrancy of Cheriton High Street, and qualify for the government funding.
"But I'd rather lose government funding than lose Cheriton High Street's shops."
Most traders on the high street said they were not opposed to bicycle infrastructure on principle, and many are cyclists for leisure, but they feared the knock-on impact of reduced parking when side streets off the main road are already at capacity.
Implementation of the scheme, paid for by the government’s Active Travel Fund, would have required the removal of around 70% of the on-street parking in Cheriton Road and Cheriton High Street to make way for the cycle paths.
Green Party ward councillor Rebecca Shoob expressed her disappointment that the scheme, part of a £6 million investment in walking and cycling, has been dropped.
She said: "This scheme isn't going to happen but that doesn't mean that others shouldn't.
"We need not just to encourage but to enable more people to walk and cycle so that we can reduce the number of cars on the road and the need for parking spaces.
"I hope there will be other local schemes proposed to make walking and cycling safer and more pleasant, so that more people have healthier, sustainable travel options that reduce carbon emissions and save money."