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proved its far-reaching Integrated Transport Strategy, Councillor David Burton, chairman of the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Trans- portation Committee, said he be- lieved the South East Relief Road would offer “the most significant contribu- tion to relief on the


Cllr David Burton


area’s roads.” He added: “My personal view is


that this would be the single most significant improvement. I trav- elled across Maidstone today, and there were no problems. It was lovely. But, if something does occur then this area quickly be- comes congested. The relief road would provide an alternative route aswell as providing a shorter jour- ney.” Cllr Burton, who represents the Marden and Yalding ward, high- lighted that a significant propor- tion of the area’s new homes were destined to be built in the south. The council’s report on the Inte-


grated Transport Strategy, which was approved on September 20, says that action to tackle conges-


Bypass ‘key to traffic flow’ Areas for improvement


Speaking after the council ap-


tion on Maidstone’s roads is needed urgently, with 18,500 new homes and 14,500 new jobs envis- aged by 2031. The proposals in the Integrated Transport Strategy also include road improvements particularly around key junctions, better bus services and train connections. Cllr Burton said: “The first drafts


were very much carrot and stick, with lots of stick for motorists. This latest draft is carrot, carrot, carrot. Yes we want more cycle paths, yes we want more bus services and better train services, but don’t for- get the humble motorist.” The findings, approved on Tues-


day, will be added to evidence supporting the council’s local plan – the document bringing together planning for development in the borough – which is due to be sub- mitted for approval next month The council identifies money


from new housing developments as one source of money to imple- ment the strategy as well as vari- ous funding pots including New Homes Bonus and an £8.9million grant from the Local Enterprise Partnership. Cllr Burton added: “This docu-


ment is the context to say to devel- opers building new homes ‘these are the issues that this will create and you need to contribute money to resolving those issues, and mak- ing people’s lives better’.”


Routes proposed for a village relief road


THREE options are being consid- ered for a Leeds-Langley relief road. The Joint Transportation Board


(JTB), made up of representatives from county, borough and parish councils, is assessing factors includ- ing topography and viability. The options will go out to public consultation, but critics worry this may not happen for many months. According to information seen by Downs Mail, all routes would start on or near the Penfold bridge after the main entrance to Leeds Castle. Option 1 (East): From Penfold Hill, the route would skirt along Burberry Lane and into woodland close to Langley and then on to or near the FiveWents crossroads. Option 2 (West): From Penfold Hill, the route would veer right around Leeds, over Forge Lane and possibly on to Back Street, emerging at the junction near Horseshoes Lane.


32 Maidstone November 2016


Option 3 (East andwest): This route will form an ‘S’ shape, following the west route before emerging at the Langley end of Burberry Lane and picking up the end of the east route and emerging at or near the Five Wents crossroads. Most JTB members realise none of


these options will be palatable to res- idents affected by them, but with traffic through Leeds andWillington Street on the rise – and set to rise fur- ther with new house building – something will have to be done. Option 1 is the least likely, as it


will receive strong opposition from Leeds Castle whose parkland it could affect. It would also run close to Battel Hall, an historic building. The second option is likely to be cheaper than the third, although the third might be seen as a more practi- cal or less unpopular solution. One borough council source told


OTHER key findings of thenewIn- tegrated Transport Strategy include the following:  Parking charges could be in- creased by 50 per cent in some of Maidstone's car parks by 2031. Councillor David Burton said the proposals would not necessarily be implemented across the board. He said:"We can use price to encourage longer stayers to use the less popu- lar car parks, which are a couple of minutes' walk out of town, leaving the central ones free for shoppers.”  There are few bus lanes and most buses only accept cash. In some cases return journey tickets are not available before 9am. The report suggests working with bus compa- nies to introduce more bus lanes, more bus services and a north west Maidstone bus loop. Maidstone’s three town centre sta- tions are poorly connected com- pared to other Kent towns. More train services including reintroduc- ing direct services to London Bridge and Cannon Street are suggested. Cycle routes in the town centre are limited and disjointed with very few off-road options, few safe cycle routes to schools, colleges, shops and work places. The borough does have cycle routes linking the town centre with surrounding houses including an 11-mile commuter link between


KEY FIGURES


 SOME 84% of households in the borough have at least one car, compared with 80% across Kent and 74% in England.  The 2011 Census shows that 15%of trips to work in Maidstone are 2km or less in distance.  The council’s Journey toWork Census gave the following results: Car driver – 50,131 – 44% Not in work – 35,141 – 31% On foot – 9,023 – 8% Train – 5,257 – 4.6% Work at home 4,705 – 4% Bus or coach – 2,945 – 2.6% Bike – 935 – 0.8%


Maidstone and theMedway Towns.  Maidstone’s key roads are at, or near, capacity at peak times. Cllr Burton said there would be number of road junction improvements that would be made as part of the strat- egy as and when proposed now homes are developed.Hesaid: “This is the tool with which to empty the developers’ pockets.”  The public transport network is poor, particularly for people in the south of the borough who find it difficult to access vital services be- cause of “a lack of transport op- tions”.


THEsingle biggest improvement to Maidstone’s traffic woes would be the building of theLeeds/Lan- gley bypass, says the head of the borough’s strategic planning and transport committee.


Downs Mail: “My guess is that they’ll try to sit on it until after the KCC elections next May. “Perhaps they don’t realise that people are getting pretty angry about it.Youcan’t just keep building houses and hope the roads will cope because they can’t cope as it is.” The issue of housebuilding on the


A274 Sutton Road and the knock-on effects for villages such as Otham, Langley, Leeds and Sutton Valence


will figure heavily in the county council election campaign next year. Ukip spokesman Eddie Powell


said: “The JTB can propose what it likes, but it’s no use if there isn’t the money to pay for it. “There needs to be a little less talk


and lot more action. The time for get- ting these proposals in front of the public is now, not after next May when the KCC elections are out of theway. People aren’t daft.”


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