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Gatland Lane closure adds to Barming sinkhole misery

Parents' and neighbours' complaints about poor driving and near misses have caused the closure of a road - giving motorists a huge five-mile diversion around a sinkhole.

Gatland Lane, which runs adjacent to Tonbridge Road and its now infamous sinkhole, is shut for three weeks in the wake of the complaints.

Kent County Council has taken the decision to shut Gatland Lane for three weeks, coinciding with the drawn out work to fill in the chasm outside Taj Barming which opened in May.

Further views of the sinkhole on the A26 Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, near the junction of Fountain Lane outside the Taj Barming restaurant.Picture: Andy Payton (2389097)
Further views of the sinkhole on the A26 Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, near the junction of Fountain Lane outside the Taj Barming restaurant.Picture: Andy Payton (2389097)

The diversions recommended by KCC give drivers a huge headache of travelling five miles just to reach the other side of the sinkhole.

Commuters will now have to negotiate the dreaded Hermitage Lane traffic and go through Allington to reach the other side of Barming.

Gatland Lane will be shut for three weeks (3027400)
Gatland Lane will be shut for three weeks (3027400)

KCC decided Gatland Lane is not a suitable diversion as a minor road and they have tried appealing to drivers for better judgement with signage which is being ignored.

A spokesman said: “While the road will be closed, it will still be accessible to all residents, school users and bus companies.

“We are trying to get road users to use the official diversion – which we appreciate is inconvenient and for that we can only apologise – but previous diversion signs were being ignored.

“Numerous reports of near misses and accidents with road users and school children from poor and impatient driving have been reported to us, which is why we have introduced the closure."

The A26 Tonbridge Road has been closed in both directions in Barming due to a sinkhole. Picture: Stephen Pettitt (2242583)
The A26 Tonbridge Road has been closed in both directions in Barming due to a sinkhole. Picture: Stephen Pettitt (2242583)

Barming’s sinkhole opened up on May 28 with weeks of work being carried out to avoid a summer of motoring hell.

However, it is now more than seven weeks since the road collapsed and Tonbridge Road still remains a pile of rubble.

Although most of the hole has been filled in, an inspection found that “soil stabilisation and strengthening” was needed to prevent an identical issue in the future.

KCC has announced a contractor has been roped in to carry out a process called compaction grouting which involves drilling into the ground at regular intervals and injecting cement beneath the surface.

Those works began on Monday, July 9, and are expected to last two weeks and when they are done work will continue to rebuild the road.

At present KCC have no timescale available as to when Tonbridge Road will be opened again.

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