Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road (SSRR)
Policy AFC 3 (Pages 207 to 208)At the time of writing this is no longer considered to be deliverable prior to 2031 and as a result it is promoted by Swale Borough Council as an 'Area of Future Change'. It is not critical to support and deliver any other part of the development strategy in the Local Plan.
The concept of such a road linking the A2 to the M2 has existed for many years, but not until 2004 when the Kent Science Park proposed the road in order to fulfil its own expansion aspirations did this become a fixation of the Borough Council. Originally promoted as a means to remove traffic from the A2 and complete what in essence would be a ring road around Sittingbourne.
It should also be noted that any discussions pertaining to the Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road, by default include a new M2 motorway junction which is referred to as Junction 5A.
Pros (According to Swale Borough Council)
- Facilitates the expansion of the Kent Science Park
- safety and capacity problems at Junction 5 and the A249 leading to delays;
- congestion in central Sittingbourne that limits regeneration;
- congestion and delay within the A249 corridor; and
- deterioration in environmental quality on the A2 between Sittingbourne and Faversham
- The traffic modelling work undertaken by Kent Highways is unable to determine the exact benefits of this road, other than providing additional capacity, which would be the function of any new road regardless of location.
- The transport model acknowledges that congestion on the A249 / Junction 5 will increase even with the Southern Relief Road, so it is implausible to suggest that it can address safety issues.
- The traffic modelling suggests the road will cause a considerable increase in traffic on Highsted Road with 77% of peak traffic flow leaving road before Bapchild, presumably with knock-on effects for Bell Road, Woodstock Road, Cromer Road, and Swanstree Avenue.
- The traffic model has already concluded that the road does not remove much traffic from the A2. Kent Highways have implicitly stated that this road would not be any form of mitigation for the problems created by completing the Northern Relief Road.
- Road requires significant additional new development (not specified) which is not currently in the Local Plan. Is this thousands of additional houses and new employment sites?
- Route of road essentially fixed, with Kent Science Park at one end and the Northern Relief Road at the other, the mix of options in-between is limited.
- Kent Science Park provided the only route options which Swale Borough Council have considered and which Kent Highways modelled.
Highlighting the problems
"would need more integration with major new development (not currently envisaged as feasible in this plan period) to be a requirement."
Swale Borough Council
Statement 5, Local Plan
“these limited 2031 model runs cannot asses the benefits of the proposed Junction 5A and would require a more detailed assessment of directly comparable scenarios with and without the SSRR and any package of
measures that went with it.”
“the northern section of the relief road around the A2 is lightly trafficked. The existing alignment of the route joining the A2 to the east of Bapchild limits the attraction of the route for people with destinations into Sittingbourne, and the model seems to indicate that people are coming off the relief road prematurely around Highsted Road to access the Sittingbourne urban area."
"To encourage more traffic to stay on at the northern end, the alignment of the route needs to be reviewed to possibly join the A2 further west of Bapchild nearer the urban area of Sittingbourne.”
LDF Second Forecasting Report
Fundamentally this scheme is fatally flawed, not only have the Council established that the road doesn’t function due to lack of traffic; its very purpose is undermined by a ridiculous and desperate attempt to persuade people to use a road that should by definition be necessary because of an existing problem and the demand this creates.
The Council are in effect trying to stimulate demand to substantiate a road scheme that has little or no transport benefits.
By almost every measure by which this road is perceived to be a benefit it fails, with the only exception being to allow the Kent Science Park to expand. The SSRR does not function as intended. It doesn’t act as an alternative to the A249/M2 north/south corridor. It does not sufficiently assist with the impact of the
SNRR, nor have any clear benefits for the M2 J5 have been demonstrated.
The greatest danger comes with the requirement for major new development, which we read as thousands of additional houses and probably further employment sites in addition to the trebling in size of the Kent Science Park.