You may remember I wrote recently about the proposed A21 flyover and widening scheme, billed as being the saviour to all our transport needs in the area.
Having also written another article back in October when the idea was first mooted, I was unconvinced the proposed plans were ideal, but not having had much time to consider the plans had not formed a concrete opinion on them. I have now.
Instinctively I wanted to reject the idea of massive structure looming over the countryside, and am concerned about the impact of a duel carriageway between Tonbridge and the Longfield Road roundabout. I am now also worried that the plans have not been made sufficiently available for public opinion given the impact it will have on the area, or that people really understand what the results will be.
I can appreciate some people just want a 'solution' if they get held up every day, but is their judgement clouded by their own desperation? And is there an element of the NIMBY about it, given they will not be so offended by the construction from on top of it, on their way home to somewhere far, far away.
Those of us living nearby will be greatly affected by the changes, and I really don't understand how the proposed bridge will help congestion, and am not reassured just by being told that it "will".
We have received extensive correspondence on the subject, some excepts of which I include here, and I've chatted to other people in the area. The general gist is one of horror and disbelief at how the plans have been put forward and approved, with little apparent consultation with those people it will ultimately affect. I have heard rumour that survey figures have been manipulated to help push some of the plans through. Obviously I couldn't possibly comment on rumour, I just thought I'd mention it.
Words such as "bulldozed" and "lip-service", "deceptive" and "dictatorial" have cropped up in conversations with people, as well as "horrific" and "M25 spaghetti junction". It's not looking good.
When residents are seriously considering moving out of the area rather than face the carbuncle every day (myself included), it's not a brilliant advert for the Council's consideration of local feeling.
We need to seriously consider the benefits and whether they really do outweigh the negatives. Do we really want to roll over and let this happen without really understanding the implications?
"The major re-working of the Longfield Road roundabout some years ago was misconceived, badly executed and has caused more problems than it solved, which does not inspire confidence that they've 'got it right' with the current plan."
"Consultation on the current scheme has been kept largely under wraps from the outset... Comments sent about the proposal have been brushed aside and many of the arguments for aspects of the development appear to be based on inaccurate statistical information, mixed with what appears to be a large element of 'because we said it is - end of discussion' responses."
"It'll be hideous, a real scar on the landscape"
"...traffic will move through the proposed development of this section of the A21 at a faster pace, where is it going to go? Into the bottleneck that is the Longfield Road estate, into the A264 Pembury Road - already congested for most of each day, on to the Kipping's Cross Roundabout, again a severe congestion point. How long before the argument to widen other roads in the area to cope with 're-located congestion' occurs? Can we look forward to the Pembury Road becoming a Dual Carriageway in coming years? Will the exit roads from the Trading estate have to be expanded, given that once you are in there how do you get out, other than through a single file rail bridge or a residential road?... Get the Trading Estate traffic moving on a separate, smaller service road and most of the A21 / Castle Hill problems would probably disappear."
"I can't really see how a flyover will solve the problem - surely a better organised roundabout and slip-roads would be less intrusive & more effective?"
"...how many people in TW really know what's going on?"
"... A massive great scar on the locale with 2+ years of disruption - For what?...... To ferry even more cars from one log-jam into another 500 yds further on...... I.e. the Pembury Road and surrounding connections. The Ind Estate is already a hopeless case because of atrocious planning and lack of forward thinking of the impact of encouraging that many shoppers to go 'TK Maxing' etc 7 days a week."
And my personal favourite response: "What the...?"
You have until 5th March to register objections with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council:...
If you wish to support, comment on or object to the Draft Orders, put forward alternative proposals or comment on the Environmental Statement, please write to or e-mail the Highways Agency at, A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Team, Highways Agency, Federated House, London Road, Dorking, Surrey. RH4 1SZ. E-mail email@example.com. The closing date for your views will be Friday 5 March 2010.
AND we want to hear more from you.... Have your say, email us.
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Natelie Fitzroy is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.