by Nick Eden-Green
There is a solution to Canterbury’s traffic woes, but the council isn’t doing anything about it.
Everyone accepts that the biggest traffic problem we face is the ring road. It causes major delays and damages the local economy as drivers waste time sitting in queues.
It’s a major source of pollution as stationary traffic is far dirtier than moving traffic. It causes vehicles to back up on the feeder roads, particularly Old and New Dover roads, Wincheap and Sturry Road, causing more delay and pollution.
The council has agreed to some 11,000 more houses in the eastern, southern and western suburbs of Canterbury bringing even more traffic onto the most congested routes into the city.
The plan will mean a 25% to 40% increase in housing numbers, plus 3,500 more student halls of residence rooms.
So if you thought the traffic was bad at Christmas, that’s what we will be faced with every day!
The Local Plan blithely relies on “modal shift” to address the traffic problem on the ring road caused by new housing.
Essentially, it expects that people will walk or cycle to the city. Given the distance into central Canterbury, this seems to be wishful thinking, particularly as cyclists will have to tackle some pretty steep hills.
Kent County Council commissioned a traffic modelling report which, although dated December 2016, only came to light in February of this year.
Small wonder: it is a shoddy and incomplete piece of work.
The report proposes removing roundabouts and replacing them with traffic lights, but makes no allowances for the additional cars from 11,000 extra homes. It also ignores how the traffic will flow once access to Littlebourne is opened up from Military Road.
Will traffic lights really solve the problem? Traffic patterns at the Wincheap roundabout will completely change if the fourth slip road from the A2 at Wincheap is built.
Traffic on the Rheims Way heading towards Ashford will certainly reduce. But traffic coming from London heading to Sturry will increase. None of this is properly modelled. Nor is a Wincheap relief road considered.
I consistently opposed and voted against the Local Plan because it not only fails to address Canterbury’s biggest problem, but will actually make things worse.
There is a solution: a southern bypass for the A28.
It could, and should, be built by the developers of the various major sites in Thanington, south Canterbury, Littlebourne Road and Hersden. It would serve those sites, remove through traffic from the city, and genuinely tackle our pollution problem.
This was proposed by my group on the council, the Lib Dems, but thrown out by the Conservative administration on cost grounds.
Yet these are the same Conservatives who are determined to spend £9.1m on a car park at Canterbury West, £2m on tinkering with the pavements in Castle St, The Friars and the High Street and £1.3m on putting automatic barriers in our car parks.
Sometimes you have to listen to what the people of Canterbury actually want. I say this council has got its priorities completely wrong.
Nick Eden-Green is a Lib Dem, a ward councillor for Wincheap and a former Lord Mayor of Canterbury. He sits on the council’s planning committee, joint transport board and property and regeneration committee.