Decision looms for M20 junction plan
The fate of a long-awaited new junction off the M20 will finally be revealed before Christmas – with construction work expected to start next year if the bold scheme is approved.
Transport chiefs behind the multi-million-pound junction 10a are waiting on transport secretary Chris Grayling to decide on the plans following a public consultation led by the Planning Inspectorate.
Mr Grayling has until December 1 to announce his decision – about a decade after the plans aimed at relieving congestion at junction 10 were first mooted.
Former Ashford Borough Council leader Paul Bartlett, who represents the Weald East ward, said he was a “reluctant supporter” of the £104.4m plan.
“We recognise the congestion at junction 10, and that there is a need for the new junction,” he said.
“Clearly, there will be a disadvantage to this, because the amount of traffic in Sevington will massively increase, but I am pleased about the inclusiveness of the public consultation process.
“The planning i nspector deserves credit for holding his meetings in the open and allowing people to contribute. It is a huge development and he genuinely listened to our concerns.”
If approved, the junction 10a scheme will be built 700 metres east of junction 10 – forcing the Wyevale Willesborough Garden Centre in Hythe Road to be demolished.
Construction would include a new roundabout over the motorway close to the Pilgrims Hospice as well as a two-way link road between the M20 and the A2070 at Sevington with another new roundabout close to the Ashford Retail Park off Barrey Road.
The M20 sliproads near Tesco Extra at junction 10 will become redundant, with drivers using junction 10a instead.
Cllr Bartlett – who lives in Sevington – said residents had fears over increased road noise and the impact on the floodplain with the development, which would also be linked to the A20.
He said a green gap should be left between the nearby Mersham village and proposed Stour Park warehouse development, which the approval of junction 10a would pave the way for.
“Our concerns are about the local environment, particularly the green space,” Cllr Bartlett added.
“Mersham could really suffer, and the planning inspector understood the points about using a low road-noise surface and having barriers put up to stop the noise from spreading.
“I am reasonably confident that the planning inspector heard our points. I have expectations that the minister will be protective of the local community.
“What we have taken from the public consultation process is that we have had the chance to voice our concerns and are hopeful that the secretary of state will reflect this.”
Earlier this month, the Planning Inspectorate issued a report of recommendation to the secretary of state, giving Mr Grayling three months to decide on the scheme.
The proposed new roads and roundabouts
Cllr Paul Bartlett