Courier November 16th.1992
Bypass row By Victor Briggs
Efforts to change the plans of the Department of Transport bypass improvement scheme between Pembury and Tonbridge were given strong support by members of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council this week. Three routes which would connect Pembury and Tonbridge bypasses were proposed and a combination of two, known as Red and Orange: were favoured by the Borough Council, but the Department of Transport is continuing to stick to the Blue route as its preferred option.
In a joint report by the boroughs planning services and highways services managers it is felt that the Blue route requires at its widest point: a 240 metre cutting with steep embankments through Castle Hill ridge, and the construction of an embankment across two ghylls, taking the road to the junction with Mountfield road. A two level junction would be provided between the new trunk road and Mountfield road. The existing junction at Vauxhall Lane would remain in its present form. Again the scheme would also involve some severance and loss of farm land and one property. Neville Lodge would need to be demolished. From an environmental point of view, the council believes that the Blue route would have a detrimental impact on the landscape setting of Tunbridge Wells. There would be, says the report, a significant change to the skyline within the ridge separating Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge which forms an enclosed setting to this part of the town. It would also significantly change the well defined character of this part of the High Weald area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and have a detrimental impact on the views across the valley from the A26. The Secretary of State accepted that the Blue route would had ” the greatest effect on the landscape and on agriculture “. The report acknowledges: that the Orange and Red routes would also have some impact on the landscape: but they would be sited away from the immediate setting of Tunbridge Wells. A particular worry to the borough council is the width of the Blue route carriageway which would be three lane in each direction to cope with a projected 58 thousand vehicles a day in 2011. This the council say, could increase volumes of traffic on the local road network, specifically Mountfield road and Pembury road. Traffic noise is another aspect the council have closely considered. The Blue route indicates that there will be a reduced level of road traffic noise for about 22 properties which line the A21 from Longfield road to Top Lodge. These are currently exposed to high levels which could increase from one to two decibels if the road is not built. There would, however, the increases in noise of between 2 to 7 decibels for 6 properties if the new Blue route is built.: Colebrook and Hope cottage for instance will experience a large increase of between 10 to 14 decibels. Both the highways and Planning Board of the borough council agreed that the Blue route would have a detrimental usual impact on landscape, that the three lane dual route should be reconsidered: and that the A21 should still be used to its full potential.