Published: 00:18, 15 September 2016
A new bridge over the River Medway has opened today.
The Medway Crossing which links Snodland and Halling on the west bank of the river to Wouldham and Burham on the east bank has been built at a cost of £18.9m.
Developer Trenport constructed the bridge in support of its new 1,000-home Peters Village currently under construction at the former Peters Lime and Cement Works in Wouldham.
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The Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle, performed the opening ceremony at 1pm.
The bridge is the first completely new crossing over the Medway since the M2 motorway bridge opened at Borstal in 1963, although the Medway Tunnel under the river at Chatham opened in 1996.
Trenport acquired the 210-acre brownfield site in 2001 and working closely with planning officers at Tonbridge and Malling Council and Kent County Council gained consent for a new community to comprise 1,000 houses, a supermarket, shops, medical centre, pharmacy, school, village hall and playing fields.
VIDEO: The bridge is declared open
The company is spending more than £50 million on supporting infrastructure, including the bridge and new road layouts.
The project was delayed in 2008 due to the national recession, but was revitalised with a £19.5m loan from the Government’s Homes and Communities’ Agency (HCA) Local Infrastructure Fund in 2014. Construction on the first houses started earlier this year and they are due to be completed by 2022.
The design will see the housing created on tiers, so that all homes will have a view of the river.
It is expected the new bridge will help bring better travel, work and education options to the whole area.
Trenport director Chris Hall said: “The bridge is the key - making it all the more astonishing that this stretch of the Medway has never had a proper crossing.
“From our own pre-development archaeological surveys, we know this area was important to the Romans, who spanned an even wider point of the river at Rochester, and there has been a bridge at Aylesford village to the south since mediaeval times.
“And there might well have been talk during its industrial heyday, but records show that only a foot ferry and, during World War II, a temporary Bailey Bridge, ever connected the banks here.”
Mr Hall said: “That has now been put right.”
Gareth Blacker, head of transactions at HCA, said: “The Homes and Communities Agency is pleased to have played its part in the successful delivery of this prestige project and associated new community.
“We also note that this work was completed smoothly and on time. This speaks well for the possibilities of other developments in the future, for which we hope to announce similar loan funding.”
Attention is now being focussed on the possible development of nearby Bushey Wood.