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Early designs for Tenterden's town centre revamp revealed

This could be the future of a Kent town centre.

Early concept designs for the Tenterden project show wider pavements and less traffic lights and are due to be discussed by bosses on Tuesday.

A mini-roundabout will also be constructed at the entrance to Highbury Lane replacing the existing traffic light system
A mini-roundabout will also be constructed at the entrance to Highbury Lane replacing the existing traffic light system

The high street's overhaul has been designed by the town council's town centre regeneration working group with consultation from the green spaces working group.

But it is yet to be approved or formally adopted by the authority which says consultation with Kent County Council and the public would need to be sought before any further action is taken.

Two one-way road systems would be created - one on Bridewell Lane and Highbury Lane; another by Beacon Oak Road and East Hill with the junction between Oaks Road and the A28 Ashford Road being blocked off.

Traffic lights along the high street could be removed to make way for a mini-roundabout on East Cross and another at the entrance to Bridewell Lane.

Away from road traffic, the proposal sees a lot of reworking for pedestrians.

A mini-roundabout could be installed at the East Cross end of the High Street
A mini-roundabout could be installed at the East Cross end of the High Street

Footpaths will be wider and resurfaced, and improved access will be created linking the town centre to the Kent and East Sussex Railway station.

The high street pavement widening would come at the detriment of drivers, making the road narrower.

However, this would allow cafes and restaurants to have a larger al fresco capacity, particularly important at a time when social distancing is so widely observed.

A number of car park spaces will be removed, however these losses are hoped to be offset in other locations.

Cllr Mike Carter - who is on the tourism and business committee - said: "We want to develop Tenterden into a town that's reducing CO2 emissions, going green and taking it forward into the 21st Century.

Early designs of how a reworked Tenterden high street could look
Early designs of how a reworked Tenterden high street could look

"It'll be an even more functioning place to live, work and play.

"We're definitely going to get housing, but we're trying to get the developments to pay for these upgrades.

"We're aiming to replace every parking space elsewhere, and we're going to use developers' contributions to computerise the car parks.

"We're looking to allow a half hour of free parking before being charged, so people can pop into town for lunch without having to pay a premium.

"Also new crossings will improve safety along the High Street.

Early designs of how a reworked Tenterden high street could look
Early designs of how a reworked Tenterden high street could look

"They are just ideas at the present time, we wanted other people's ideas and if the committee approves of them, we can progress onto public consultations."

Already the scheme is proving divisive, with some supporting the council's idea of wider pavements and green spaces and others concerned about the plan's roundabouts and that it could forever change Tenterden's look.

James Bannister, who works in the town and lives in St Michaels, said: "The A28 High street is a major thoroughfare, reducing the size of the road would cause a huge amount of traffic congestion.

"It would be lovely to sit outside bars and restaurants, but not breathing in exhaust fumes."

Adam King saw a few benefits in the scheme, but questioned a number of aspects in the provisional plan.

Tenterden's public transport has been a major considered factor in the newly unveiled plan
Tenterden's public transport has been a major considered factor in the newly unveiled plan

He said: "The East Cross roundabout looks nice, and loses the awful lights. The Bridewell Lane one-way system makes good sense, the rest is unnecessary in my opinion.

"Removing free parking in town will inconvenience everyone, what remains I assume is allocated for blue badge holders - given the older population of Tenterden is there a sufficient amount?

"Why reduce the road width? The pavements in most are adequate as they are, what about when businesses require large goods deliveries? What about civil engineering works?

"The traffic will be at a standstill ... would be a bad move in my opinion."

A council report has been issued ahead of Tuesday's meeting, when the town centre plan will be discussed.

Pavements would be widened with grassy areas along Tenterden's high street
Pavements would be widened with grassy areas along Tenterden's high street

Also being discussed are the aims of Tenterden Town Council in helping independent businesses, particularly after the lockdown is eased.

The briefing notes notes: "As lockdown/ social distancing is set to be with us for the foreseeable future, this will inevitably further impact on Tenterden’s High street, especially due to the layout and age of many of the retail properties, who will find the 2 metre distancing criteria challenging.

"When we emerge out of lockdown and the high street gradually reopens in phases, there will be a need to reassure the immediate residents as well as the surrounding community to support the town."

Read more:All the latest news from Tenterden

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