‘Radical shared space plan the only way to get moving’
We continue our campaign to find ways to beat congestion in Maidstone. This week’s focus is on Wheatsheaf junction, a key pinch point, says Alan Smith
1015kg payload Will carry an 8’ x 4’ sheet flat The Wheatsheaf junction connects several areas, but for many of us it has become one of the major hold-ups – every day.
It handles traffic to the south of Maidstone and connects the town with the A229 to Loose and Staplehurst and Sutton Road towards Headcorn.
With extensive house building already under way on the Sutton Road, the situation will only get worse.
Sean Carter is chairman of the South Maidstone Action for Roads and Transport Forum (SMART).
He said: “With more than 37,000 vehicles going through the Wheatsheaf junction in 12 hours, and all the extra development going on, this emphasises even more the need for a southern relief road as the top priority.
“But even then, this junction will continue be a major congestion point – as well as a major air pollution and health hazard for local residents.”
The four-way junction has been controlled by traffic lights since the 1980s. SMART is proposing a ‘shared space’ scheme – similar to that already in use in Poynton in Cheshire.
Mr Carter said: “A shared space scheme could improve traffic flow and provide a safer environment for pedestrians using the shops, South Park and other facilities in the area.”
In Poynton in 2011, the local authority reconstructed the major junction in the town, which was carrying 10,500 vehicles a day. The scheme involved a sequence of crossings, a central reservation to assist pedestrians
Above, traffic chaos at Wheatsheaf junction, Sutton Road and Plains Avenue junction; inset, Sean Carter, chairman of the South Maidstone Action for Roads and Transport Forum
The new shared space scheme in Poynton, Cheshire