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One-way system proposed for Highsted Road, Sittingbourne, to solve parking and traffic problems

By Luke May

Years of campaigning to fix traffic problems near a hospital could result in action finally being taken.

Campaigners have been passed from pillar to post as they tried to solve congestion and parking woes in Highsted Road, Sittingbourne.

Despite a recommendation to leave the road as it was, Swale councillors have defied the advice and pressed ahead with plans for a one-way system to cut congestion by Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital.

Highsted Road is a bottleneck for traffic because of parked cars
Highsted Road is a bottleneck for traffic because of parked cars

The highways team at Kent County Council (KCC) had suggested no action be taken to tackle parking problems and jams in Highsted Road.

But at the latest Joint Transportation Board (JTB) meeting, a mix of parish, borough and county councillors opted for the road to be changed to take southbound traffic only between Farm Crescent and Swanstree Avenue.

A consultation asked Highsted Road residents what they thought of changing the street's layout to include a footpath on the eastern side.

For that to be built, the council would have to acquire land - something KCC said it had "discounted" during previous inquiries.

The survey also asked what people thought of closing the road to traffic completely, or imposing a northbound one-way system.

The southbound proposal was the most popular, but the report noted there were objections to all three options.

Resident Richard Baker has backed plans for a one-way system on Highsted Road
Resident Richard Baker has backed plans for a one-way system on Highsted Road

Officers recommended no action be taken - but councillors disagreed.

Member for Sittingbourne South, Cllr John Wright, said: “I had residents contact me who were disgusted with the report.

"It didn’t pick up on the traffic issues the road suffers with, it purely looked at the footpath issues.

"If you look at the data, everyone wants something done.

“As more houses are built, surrounding schools are going get to get busier, as is the hospital.”

Richard Baker, who lives in Highsted Road, said: “Having a one-way system should mean there are fewer cars coming down the road and parking up.

“At least it will mean we won’t get HGVs blocking the road by coming in both directions.”

The plan will go to KCC’s cabinet, with a response due in April.

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