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The £85 million redevelopment of Newnham Court Shopping Village, Maidstone, presents “a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix the long-standing problems of traffic congestion at a major gateway to the county town”.
Land Securities plans to spend £6 million on road improvements to boost traffic capacity around the site, near Junction 7 of the M20.
The measures to tackle road congestion are part of an ambitious plan to transform the shopping village, which is home to Notcutts garden centre and a host of other retailers. At the heart of the scheme are a 6,980 sqm Debenhams, a 3,919 sqm Waitrose supermarket and an enlarged Notcutts. About 1,500 jobs will be created.
Chris Ward of Land Securities said the company was prepared to invest heavily to ease existing problems with roads choked during the rush hour and also to cope with extra traffic generated by the redeveloped shopping village.
“This is a big project and understandably we have had some public feedback anxious to know what impact it will have on local roads. People have told us there are already issues with traffic congestion, especially in rush hour, and our own detailed research supports this.
“That is why I believe our plan to spend £6 million on road improvements provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix the long-standing problems of traffic congestion at a major gateway to the county town.
“To put this commitment into context, we understand that Kent County Council spent £1.7 million during 2013-14 on highway improvements to cut congestion across the entire county.
“Improvements will also be made to existing Park & Ride bus links between the town centre and Newnham Court.”
Maidstone Borough Council is expected to vote on the planning application in February.
The planned improvements, which are supported by KCC Highways and the Highways Agency, have been drawn up after detailed research and planning, with computer-modelling used to project local traffic growth over the next 10 years. The impact will be to significantly increase capacity, not just during the week but also at peak weekend shopping times.
Chris Ward said that without the redevelopment of Newnham Court Shopping Village and the associated road improvements, studies show that congestion in and around the site will get considerably worse over the next decade.
The Land Securities plan will see improvements at several key sites – the J7 roundabout, the Bearsted Road roundabout and the New Cut Road roundabout, plus dualling the section of Bearsted Road adjoining the shopping centre.
At J7, signals will be installed to control the flow of traffic while road widening and extra lanes are also planned. It is considered that J7 has a poor accident record, with a number of relatively minor low-speed collisions reported as motorists queue to enter and leave the roundabout. Controlled pedestrian crossings will be installed on the roundabout to provide safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists heading to and from Detling.
Extra lanes and signals will be added to the Bearsted Road / M20 link road roundabout and the New Cut Road / Bearsted Road roundabout.
“Our research shows that the roundabouts at J7 and also New Cut Road are over capacity while the Bearsted Road roundabout is near capacity. Our improvements will create considerably more capacity at these traffic hotspots, and this should leave the local road network functioning far better than it does today, even with the extra development traffic,” adds Chris Ward.
The short stretch of road between Bearsted Road roundabout and New Cut Road roundabout will be transformed by the creation of a dual carriageway and a new section of footpath on the south side. A central reservation will separate the dualled lanes. Space for the two extra lanes will be created by taking the grass bank further back towards the shopping village.
Chris Ward said careful planning will ensure the road improvements will be carried out with minimum disruption to traffic. For example, it’s planned that two-way traffic will continue in Bearsted Road during the construction of the dual carriageway.
Access to the redeveloped Newnham Court Shopping Village will be via a short section of dual carriageway constructed from the New Cut Road roundabout towards the KIMS site, providing swift and smooth access to the enlarged shopping centre.
This is a news release issued on behalf of Land Securities regarding their proposed £85m redevelopment of Newnham Court Shopping Village at Maidstone. More local news at the Kent newsdesk.
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