Published: 15:28, 18 May 2022
| Updated: 15:31, 18 May 2022
Controversial plans to install traffic lights on a roundabout bottleneck would lead to queues stretching back to the Sheppey Crossing, it is claimed.
Planners have come up with the 'solution' for gridlocked Cowstead Corner at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey so more houses can be built on the Island.
The idea is buried in correspondence applying for permission to build a new housing estate off Scocles Road. The plans for the lights and 650 homes have been slammed by Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson.
The MP, who normally refuses to become involved in planning matters, has already has filed his own objection and has asked others to do the same.
He said: "The suggested solution to cope with the additional traffic by installing traffic lights at Cowstead Corner simply would not work. In fact, they would add to the current congestion and potentially lead to queues back to the Sheppey Crossing causing chaos on the A249."
He added: "It is high time that local needs and necessary infrastructure improvements were taken into account before large developments are proposed. I have raised this matter several times in Parliament and will continue to do so."
According to the statement submitted to Swale council asking for outline planning permission, developers admit the scheme would "unavoidably" affect junctions at the Thistle Way roundabout, Barton's Hill Drive roundabout and crucially the Cowstead Corner roundabout linking the main A249 route onto the Island with the A2500 Lower Road.
It admits the locations are already "subject to stress" and adds: "It does not appear possible to fully mitigate the impact of the scheme at all locations."
It says the traffic authority, Kent County Council, has "already explored matters" and adds: "One measure is the upgrading of the A249 Sheppey Crossing/A2500 Lower Road Roundabout by means of partial signalisation, which would significantly improve the operation of the junction by allowing traffic to be managed more effectively, minimising the potential for blocking back towards the A2500 Lower Road/Queenborough Road junction."
It suggests there could also be a one-way system into the planned new estate from the Lower Road and adds there should be a "package of measures" to "inform, influence and educate residents' movements towards non-car borne journeys" by putting the emphasis on walking and cycling.
It concludes: "Considering highways holistically, the impact of the proposed development on balance will be neutral to negligible."
Mr Henderson said: "I have long been opposed to large-scale housing developments on Sheppey. My concerns go back to when I was a Swale councillor in the 1980s and voted against the Lionhope Project.
"That opposition was based on the lack of a proper infrastructure to support those homes. My opposition has not changed, which is why I have submitted an objection to the proposed development of 650 dwellings on land to the east of Scocles Road."
He added: "While affordable and social housing is sorely needed, it should be met by developments in other parts of the borough including Faversham. As it happens, this particular proposal would deliver few affordable homes and would simply add to pressure on Sheppey’s already overstretched infrastructure.
"Access to health care, education and other public services is already very difficult for many people. The 650 dwellings proposed would likely add more than 1,000 new residents which will make that situation much worse.
"I am also concerned about the impact another 1,000 cars would have on the roads which already struggle to cope with existing levels of traffic."
He added: "I would urge Sheppey residents to submit their own objections and discuss the matter with their borough councillors where necessary."
Minster parish council will be discussing the application at a special meeting of its planning and transportation committee this Thursday at 7pm in its offices in Love Lane. The public is welcome to attend.
As a result, the council's annual meeting has been put back to Thursday, May 26, at 6.30pm
To view the scheme, visit Swale council's planning website here .