Bob Marshall-Andrews, QC, xx, xxxxx Road,
MP for Medway, High Brooms,
House of Commons, Tunbridge Wells,
London. Kent, TN4 XXX
Tel: 01892 XXXXX
15 January, 2001
I found your talk in Tunbridge Wells Fabian meeting on the 10th November, 2000 very interesting. I’d nearly forgotten what socialism was, though as a Councillor in the Labour run Southborough Town Council we are running a bus service. You offered to take up an issue for me. My MP Archie Norman has been pushing for a new section of road, the A21 at Castle Hill. In the past prior to New Labour the conservative local council was a little sceptical about this road building.
This most studied road has again been studied in the Access to Hastings Multi-modal Study. Called the A21 study locally. Our local MP Archiebold Norman a director of rail track, admits to pressing Lord Witty for A21 road be built at Castle Hill. Rail Track have been much criticised for resisting investment. Presumably Archie pressed for rail track to be excused the need to do any investment locally.
The Access to Hastings Multi-modal Study. Has reported:-
A 4 lane carriageway be built on-line at Castle Hill. A road that offers no long term local benefits, and is part of development of the north part of Tunbridge Wells. This road seems to be less bad than the off-line scheme.
The disadvantages include; Extra traffic attracted to Tunbridge Wells particularly through the residential area of Sherwood.
Rail that is a feature of access to Tunbridge Wells, is not developed. For example rail freight sidings and shuttle trains.
More Serious injuries due to crashes – though the study’s original objective was to improve that aspect. The study makes a particular point about the good safety record on this stretch of road.
Damage to the Natural Environment;
The road and the area nearby is designated: High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Metropolitan Green Belt, Kent Special Landscape Area, Special Nature Conservancy Interest, and Tuddley Wood RSPB nature reserve. There is also Hill Fort (scheduled ancient monument).
Road building or widening is linked to development of North Tunbridge Wells this is in the AONB.
I understand that the situation for Hastings’ is that a choice of two ways forward one was build on what the town has, or build roads and attract new green field building. The latter would surely result in the run down parts of St. Leonards and Bexhill, which are being renovated being neglected, for cheaper green field development. But this would be offset by new public transport and environmental measure. I believe that the people of Hastings largely support the first option.
I understand that the planning committee of the South East Regional Assembly have taken the report and stripped of the environmental and public transport conditions within the recommendations for the Hastings bypasses. This means if the recommendation of SERA is taken forward by government that the money spent on the study has been wasted.
As you know SERA, is business and Tory run and the Hastings MP Michael Foster is Labour. The study consultants may not have been told that Combe Haven where the western bypass would go through is the most important archaeological site in the South East. Both bypasses have server environmental implications could attract national attention of the environmental movement.
Back in my own patch Castle Hill and rail sleaze aspect must surely be important, the RSPB maybe concerned about aspects. Other roads are already being debated by Conservative Party such as; a bypass of the A26 such as across Southborough Common, Speldhurst, to Langton Green. At the same time a second borough community hall is to be demolished against government policy.