Martin Vye: The Mountfield Park development will be a disaster for Canterbury

Mountfield Park is the worst planning decision Canterbury has ever taken

With the 4,000-home Mountfield Park development set to become a reality, Martin Vye offers sees disastrous consequences for the city’s roads and air quality

Canterbury City Council’s decision to approve the construction of 4,000 houses on agricultural land to the south of the city is the worst planning decision in the 40 years I have lived in the district.

It was taken in 2016 when I was a county councillor for a part of Canterbury that would be directly affected by the development.

As the highways authority, Kent County Council had to be consulted on the impact Mountfield Park would have on the road network.

Martin Vye: Disastrous

I did my homework – and came to the conclusion it would be disastrous.

The arithmetic is simple. The figures accepted by both KCC and the developers are that Mountfield Park will generate an additional 1,876 car movements in the morning rush hour and 1,864 in the afternoon peak, mainly due to people driving to and from work.

This is even after allowing for a reduction in use of car because some will opt to walk or cycle or use the bus.

Now, Mountfield Park will have roughly the same number of residents as the existing Barton Ward, roughly the built-up area between Old Dover Road and the A257 Littlebourne Road and the ring road.

The latest figures show 1,800 Barton residents using their cars to get to work.

Even if we accept the developer’s measures to reduce car use, the combined volume of traffic is set to be double what it is now.

Almost all of it will travel along the Old and New Dover Roads and then most will head on to the already congested A28 city ring road, worsening Canterbury’s air quality.

In 2016 I was told by highways officers that KCC had commissioned a review of the ring road which I thought would examine the effect on the volume of traffic of all the housing developments in and around Canterbury which have now been agreed.

I expected it to be published in time for the planning committee meeting that would determine the Mountfield Park application.

The A28 Canterbury ring road

Well, I was wrong. First, it has only just come out.

Second, it is not a judgment of what will happen in the future, only a study of what would happen if the roundabouts – with the present volume of traffic – were controlled by traffic signals.

Effectively, KCC is burying its head in the sand and pretending the future doesn’t exist.

At the end of the report on the ring-road infrastructure support provider Amey stresses it is reporting on levels of traffic at the present.

However, it does say that it did some quick and dirty modelling based on the actual increase in houses, admitting it had “resulted in significant congestion on the network”.

And there is one telling prediction we should fear: “In future years, the additional traffic expected between New Dover Road and Broad Street cannot be accommodated without further changes to the road network.

“For example, removal of the 240m bus lane east of St George’s roundabout”.

If they do that, what price the “modal shift”, the switch from car use to bus use the developer and councils are saying has to happen?

This is why I think it is the worst planning decision ever taken in Canterbury. This is why I opposed it. And this is why I am angry KCC did not.

Martin Vye is a retired King’s School teacher, a former Lib Dem city and county councillor and a onetime Lord Mayor of Canterbury. He lives in Bridge.

3 responses to “Mountfield Park is the worst planning decision Canterbury has ever taken”

  1. I take issue with Mr Vye’s persistent negative stance on development, all the while not providing an alternative. Houses need to go somewhere, and Canterbury is under developed and over reliant on the University’s. This and other developments would enhance and diversify Canterbury further. The fault should not lay with the development per se, but with CCC and KCC over many years for not having taken seriously the need for infrastructure improvements. Just down the road Ashford has grown significantly and although imperfect has greatly considered and developed in its road network. Canterbury can and should expand, but we must stop moaning about extra cars and pollution and get on doing something about it.

    • Jim Titheridge says:

      Allen Tullett, I wonder who we need the tens of thousands of houses for in East Kent? I know it isn’t all for local people, as the homes being built are not aimed at them..
      Aside from that, even if they were, that doesn’t mean that you should build regardless of the subsequent damage it does to the area. Ashford has done well in getting all the roads in place, but where around Canterbury would you suggest the extra road capacity is placed?

    • David Mairs says:

      So this once-special city should look to Ashford for inspiration?
      Yes, I suppose those 4,000 houses to be built for Londoners at Mountfield Park move us closer to the Ashford model – should be a lot of fun!
      As for “Canterbury is under developed”, what on this planet does that mean?

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