Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road (SNRR)
September 2014 UpdateIn a surprise move Kent Highways have stated that completing the Northern Relief Road to connect with the A2 in Bapchild is no longer essential to deliver the growth planned in the Local Plan up to 2031.
This means that the Northern Relief Road is no longer strategic and therefore is less important in terms of the Local Plan, although Swale Council still remains committed even in light of the results of the traffic modelling that the Council commissioned as supporting evidence didn't support their case.
Policy AS 1 (Pages 200 to 202)At the time of writing the Council is committed to completing this hugely controversial scheme, although lacks any funding mechanism what-so-ever to progress the road.
First a bit of history, the road was never designed or built with the purpose of providing traffic relief, it was designed as distributer road to open up large sections of land for development and only had its name changed in later years to gain public funding. The actual relief it provides to the town centre is relatively marginal, the damage it is set to create will be significant.
Pros (According to Swale Borough Council)
- Designed to further relive traffic in the town centre, although the opening in November 2011 of the Milton Creek bridge section of the road was predicted to have accomplished the largest part of this relief.
- Opens up development opportunities
- Important step in re-balancing the highway network to relieve pressure at Junction 5 of the M2
- Will create severe congestion on the A2 between Bapchild and Faversham, which according the Kent Highways forces traffic back on the A249 and M2 thus completely eliminating benefits to Junction 5 mentioned above.
- Councils wants route to go right through the middle of proposed Country Park which aside from destroying the open space and countryside gap will vastly increase traffic through the village of Bapchild.
Obviously the majority of you will only be aware of the benefits of this scheme as promoted by the Council over a considerable number of years and therefore I expect that some will have some difficulty with the views expressed here, so we include direct quotations and statements from both Swale Borough Council and Kent Highways so that you may draw your own conclusions.
Highlighting the problems
“The Northern Relief Road proposals will not tackle any existing congestion issues on the A2 further to the east of Sittingbourne and therefore, at times drivers will use the A249 and M2 despite the fact that in terms of mileage, it would be longer than the Northern Relief Road/A2 option as the journey time may be more attractive. Congestion can have the effect of creating an equilibrium with regard to route choice.”
Transport Strategy Delivery Manager at Kent Highways
"Completion of the SNRR is likely to encourage some trips to switch from the M2 to the A2 east of Sittingbourne. However, congestion on this stretch of road is likely to militate against that and traffic is likely to find a balance between alternatives available."
Swale Local Plan (page 104)
“Dis-benefits resulting from any increase in traffic on the A2 east of Sittingbourne are likely to be self-restricting"
Swale Borough Council
So there you have it, in a nutshell the Council is proposing a road that will take traffic away from the primary network (M2) and place it on the secondary network (A2) and when congestion becomes critical drivers will switch to alternatives routes, namely the A249 and M2 because it will be quicker to go the long way round.
Surely this is planning for failure?
If you think that building the Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road (SSRR) is the answer, I'm sorry but you are going to be very disappointed.
"Provision of a Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road could also assist with relieving this congestion in the longer term."
Swale Local Plan (page 104)
The Councils use of ambiguous language such as “could” fails to acknowledge the outcome of the traffic modelling already undertaken, which clearly shows that the Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road does not significantly assist in this case and Kent Highways have already stated several times that the Southern Relief Road is not the mitigation measure for the Northern Relief Road.