The public inquiry into the long awaited £150m upgrade to the A21 in Kent is now underway.
The Highways Agency started to put its case to the planning inspector at the Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel in Pembury on Tuesday (14 May).
Under the Agency’s plans, a 2.5 mile section of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury in Kent would be upgraded from single to dual carriageway, adding a lane in each direction, upgrading junctions and improving the road layout.
The major road scheme would make journeys on the A21 safer and more reliable and deliver a threefold return on investment for the UK economy.
The public inquiry is part of the statutory process for the project, where an independent planning inspector will consider the Highways Agency’s plans along with any objections and alternative plans and then make a recommendation on how to proceed to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Speaking at the time when the public inquiry date was set, Highways Agency project manager Graham Link, said: “This public inquiry is an important step for the delivery of this much-needed upgrade to the A21. All views will be considered and I look forward to helping to present the Agency’s case for these improvements as part of the inquiry process.”
The A21 upgrade is one of six major road schemes that the Highways Agency is developing for delivery after 2015 and is in addition to the 24 major road projects on England’s motorways and major A roads being delivered between 2010 and 2015. Subject to funding and a successful outcome of the inquiry, construction could start as early as 2015.
Speaking to the Kent and Sussex Courier, Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: “This is such a massive issue for everyone living or working in west Kent. There will be objectors there as well, so it’s important we give a good representation of the views of the people whose lives are being ruined by it.”