Published: 13:37, 08 April 2021
| Updated: 13:46, 08 April 2021
A cycling enthusiast and sustainable transport campaigner from Maidstone believes Kent County Council should be more pro-active in bringing out about infrastructure changes to support development.
And he has found that a raft of local politicians agree with him.
Duncan Edwards has written an open letter to KCC calling for a strategic review of the Hermitage Lane area and asking for an integrated task force to be set up to establish the necessary solutions.
The letter has been co-signed by a Kent County Councillor, three Tonbridge and Malling councillors, 10 Maidstone borough councillors, 12 Aylesford parish councillors and raft of candidates at the forthcoming elections in May.
The signatures come from Conservative, Liberal, Labour and Independent members. Similar worries have already been expressed by the area's MPs Helen Grant and Tracey Crouch.
Mr Edwards is a volunteer for the Maidstone Cycle Campaign Forum and a supporter of the Medway Ecological Riverline Link, which hopes to establish an interconnecting network of walks and green spaces across the two boroughs.
He said: "I am very worried about the infrastructure challenges in the area around Hermitage Lane due to the current house-building programme."
"There's a very large amount of house-building going on and we're heading for a crisis.
"We really need KCC to live up to their previous policy commitment of 'Infrastructure First'.
"By infrastructure, I don't just mean roads, but they are the very visible challenge experienced by everyone driving in that area every day."
Mr Edwards, 60, lives in Bearsted and has previously campaigned against the new homes being built at Church Road in Otham
But he said: "The sheer volume of new homes at Hermitage Lane - up to 3,000 dwellings - puts it on a different level."
"I'm very grateful that my call has received the support of councillors and candidates from across the parties."
Mr Edward's letter addressed KCC director of highway, transportation and waste, Simon Jones, calls for "immediate and targeted action" at key junctions such as Tonbridge Road and Fountain Lane, and the A20 Poppy Field roundabout with its proposed new link to Hermitage Lane.
He said: "This is not a political issue, but a moral one.
"We have to work across administrative and political boundaries now to coordinate a sustainable response to our development plans otherwise the opportunity to maintain a balance of active and public transport links with smooth flowing traffic will be lost forever."
He asked: "Please can we take a strategic review of the Hermitage Lane area now in partnership with the boroughs and establish an infrastructure blueprint which rises to the development challenge, and deals with the pollution, noise, and congestion issues?"
He added: "Could we, in parallel, set up an integrated task force to analyse a set of solutions which can realistically deliver the ‘infrastructure first approach’ across Kent in order to bring the county’s impending infrastructure crisis under control."
His letter was co-signed by KCC Cllr Ian Chittenden, Tonbridge and Malling Cllrs Andrew Kennedy, Colin Williams and Steve Hammond.
By Maidstone Cllrs Ashleigh Kimmance, Bryan Vizzard, Clive English, Dan Daley, Diana Lewins, Fay Gooch, Jonathan Purle, Keith Adkinson and Paul Harper
And also by Aylesford Parish Cllrs Aaron Ludlow, Allan Sullivan, Andrew Rillie, Barry Smith, John Balcombe, Joyce Gadd, Lola Oyewusi, Roger Gledhill, Susan Dorrington, Tom Shelley, Trevor Walker and Wendy Papagno.
Hopeful candidates standing in May's KCC and Maidstone borough elections also signed: Ben Webster, Chris Passmore, Dan Wilkinson, Dennis Luchmun, Patrick Coates, Peter Holmes, Stanley Forecast and Tom Cannon.
Mr Jones said: "We have received the letter and will respond in due course."