Kentish Express Ashford & District
New roundabout taking shape
Work is progressing on a new roundabout on the A28 as residents are asked to help give it a name.
The roundabout at the junction of Beacon Oak Road and Ashford Road, Tenterden, is being built as part of a development of 100 homes by Redrow at Tilden Gill, which is being named Appledore Green.
Construction began in January and is expected to continue until April 12 – with part of Beacon Oak Road closed until that date.
It follows a wrangle over the junction, where Redrow first proposed to install traffic lights in order to avoid the £400,000 cost of relocating a BT fibre optics box, which the roundabout work entails.
But a backlash from residents, who said that traffic lights would gridlock the A28, resulted in Redrow agreeing to foot the cost of removing the box.
The house builder said it had acknowledged “the strength of local feeling” and had responded to residents’ concerns that traffic lights were not appropriate at the junction.
While the construction is ongoing, Tenterden Town Council is searching for a name and is asking the public to help.
Suggestions so far include Beacon Oak Roundabout, Jubilee Roundabout, The Captain Tom Roundabout, and the particularly popular Tenterturn.
While some residents are having fun thinking up names, others are still concerned about the disruption the work is bringing.
One resident said: “I’m not entirely against the project but the sheer time scale is ridiculous.
“Three months to build a small roundabout with about a 20ft diameter and realign a few junctions... this should be done within two to four weeks, not 12.
“Also I read they are supposed to be working 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, and 7am to 6pm Saturday, which sounds more than long enough to have this done in a matter of weeks!”
Aldi will not be building on a village’s only recreational area after councillors unanimously rejected the scheme.
The German supermarket giant had approached Tenterden Town Council with a request to purchase the council-owned St Michaels Recreation Ground.
St Michaels’ only designated recreation area, the land had been donated by Mary Mason of Reigate in 1935 to be preserved as an open space for “public recreational use and enjoyment”.
The Aldi scheme - which would have seen the construction of a 1,880 square metre shop and 126 parking bays off the A28 - hadn’t been widely publicised until Monday, and sparked outrage among residents.
Thus it was not surprising when councillors roundly criticised the idea and also said they would not assist Aldi’s land agents in finding other nearby locations.
Tenterden town and Ashford borough councillor Kate Walder (Ind) started Monday night’s internal committee discussion, saying: “Goodness... flabbergasting, flabbergasting.
“Obviously since this went public on KentOnline, we’ve had a lot of reaction from residents.
“When the two recreation
grounds were up for consideration in the Neighbourhood Plan, we were reassured by Ashford Borough Council planning: ‘Don’t worry, you don’t need to give them any extra protection, they’re completely protected under existing open space policies’.
“So we ignored that and they are included in the neighbourhood plan.
“So it seems nothing is safe, and the higher the level of protection one can get, the better.”
Fellow town and borough councillor Callum Knowles (Con) branded the plan “speculative vulturism”, suggesting it was only submitted “to put Aldi in everyone’s mind so when it comes to them wanting another site they’ll have made their name known”.
He insisted all green space used by children and families should be protected and that it constitutes “a green oasis , not just for people but for wildlife”.
“I suggest we send a resounding message [that] we’re not interested,” he added.
Cllr Knowles proposed the motion to reject, swiftly seconded by Tenterden Town councillor Alan Sugden. This received unanimous support.
The committee followed up the refusal to sell the land with a refusal to help Aldi’s land agents find an alternative site.
Town councillor Dr Lisa Lovelidge summed up the committee’s feelings, saying: “It’s not for us to direct them somewhere, they can go and do their own work.
“It’s not our job to do that, it’s just our job to say no thank you, go away.”
Again the council members voted unanimously, this time to refuse help.
The plan’s rejection will come as welcome news to Ashford and Tenterden MP Damian Green, who told the Kentish Express on Monday: “I’d be very reluctant to see a green space like that taken away.
“It’s a valuable space for people in St Michaels, so I think that’s almost certainly the wrong location for it.”
When asked whether he would support Aldi building a shop in the nearby area, he said: “Absolutely, particularly in times like this I’m in favour of any new shops setting up just to offer greater choice for people in the area, but not on such a valuable and important green space.”
Aldi, which already has a store in Victoria Road, Ashford, snapped up a site in Kennington’s Canterbury Road in 2019 – a spot previously earmarked for a Miller & Carter steakhouse.
But no planning application for the land has yet been submitted by the company.
During Monday’s meeting, it was decided that a working group should be set up to improve the St Michaels rec.
Among possible additions to the site are adult gym equipment and picnic tables.