De­ci­sion looms for M20 junc­tion plan

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Development Update - By Dan Wright

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

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