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Wouldham High Street ‘no entry’ traffic scheme could become permanent

A temporary traffic ban introduced to curb pollution and traffic in a village following the launch of a new bridge took a step closer to being made permanent this week.

A bid to keep the scheme, which aims to bring relief to the residents of Wouldham High Street, has been backed unanimously by members of the Tonbridge and Malling Joint Transportation Board.

Cllr Andrew Kennedy is strongly in favour of the scheme
Cllr Andrew Kennedy is strongly in favour of the scheme

The order prohibits traffic from entering the high street from the north, the Medway Towns direction.

Kent County Councillor Andrew Kennedy (Con) said: “Wouldham - the last output of Tonbridge and Malling before it becomes Medway - was a sleepy, comfortable self-contained community - until 2016 when the opening of Peters Bridge dramatically affected for the worse the quality of life for the residents in the high street.

“There are around 200 homes there - that’s about 500 people, a third of the village population. Most have no front gardens and open directly onto the road.

“Before the bridge opened, the high street coped with around 400 to 500 cars a day. Afterwards, that leapt to 5,000 a day.

“It became the chosen route for everyone travelling from the Medway Towns to the M20, to Snodland and Halling.

Residents had often protested against the traffic
Residents had often protested against the traffic

Cllr Kennedy said: “It soon became one of the worst air-quality districts in the borough. Residents could no longer open their windows because of the fumes and the noise, and fist fights sometimes broke out when lorry drivers and bus drivers clashed.”

“The No Entry scheme has brought traffic back to a sustainable level, and residents can once again open their windows.”

But Cllr Kennedy admitted the scheme could be improved.

He said: “We need an enforcement camera at No Entry junction and I would also like to see a speed reduction down to 40mph on Pilgrims Way and on Knowle Road.”

Cllr Dave Davis (Con) also considered the scheme to be “excellent”, but he too acknowledged that there were now problems elsewhere in the village because of the displaced traffic.

The Wouldham experimental traffic scheme
The Wouldham experimental traffic scheme

He suggested there needed to be a 40mph limit on “all roads north of Burham” and that the issue of parking around Cornwall Crescent and Ravens Knowle needed to be looked at.

However, neither councillor wanted to delay the speedy formal adoption of the existing scheme while these other aspects were investigated.

Cllr David said he just wanted to “put down a marker” for future investigation.

Wouldham resident Sue Smith thought there were other improvements that could be made too.

She told KentOnline: “School Lane, which we use to leave our home, is narrow and the over-growth of hedges makes it to use at times and unsafe to pull out.

Cllr Dave Davis
Cllr Dave Davis

“Also today l waited while two cars were unable to pass each other and one needed to back up. The road is too narrow for two-way traffic so may need widening.”

The final decision to make the experimental scheme permanent rests with the KCC cabinet member for highways, Cllr Neil Baker.

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