The Government has given the go-ahead for a new junction on the M20 in Kent, with construction work due to begin early next year, ten years after it was first proposed.
Junction 10a will be constructed about half a mile south of the existing junction 10 at an estimated cost of £104.4 million. It will involve two bridges and connect to the existing A20 and a new dual carriageway link road to the A2070 near Sevington.
Highways England said the new junction will serve communities and businesses around Ashford, relieving pressure on junction 10 and helping boost growth and jobs in the area.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced the decision in a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, which reviewed the plans last winter and accepted Highways England’s application for a Development Consent Order in August.
Chris Welby-Everard, Highways England’s regional delivery director in the South East, said: ‘This major new motorway junction is the biggest boost for Ashford since the arrival of international rail services nearly 20 years ago.
‘Without Junction 10a in place, future economic growth would have been constrained. Today’s news will bring real confidence that we will have the road capacity needed to enable a major programme of economic and commercial development and house building.’
He added: ‘I am grateful to all the local authorities and stakeholders in the area who have worked with us to gain this planning consent, including the 900 local people who took part in our consultation last year.
‘We will continue to work closely with our partners going forward, especially people with homes and businesses nearest to the proposed new junction.’
Highways England said work on the improvements will begin in January and the new junction is expected to open to traffic in 2019, although the scheduled end of works is May 2020.
It held a preferred route consultation in 2008 and made a preferred route announcement in 2010.