KCC is planning a temporary closure of Cranborne Avenue in March ahead of a proposal to demolish the Wheatsheaf pub, signalise Plains Avenue at Loose Road and reconfigure the Wheatsheaf junction. KCC’s original plan was to start work to deliver the junction changes this spring.
Given his previous involvement which lead to the planned closure of Cranborne Avenue being removed from the infrastructure plan in Maidstone’s Local Plan for Housing several years ago, Cllr Brian Clark raised strong objection to the planned closure. Ahead of initial consultation, KCC officers admitted to Cllr Clark that that they had not, to that point undertaken any modelling of the traffic impact of closure on Cranborne Avenue, Plains Avenue, South Park Road, and nearby roads, or the impact of signalisation at Plains Avenue. KCC had only modelled the benefit to traffic flows on the A229 by removing Cranborne Avenue’s “green light” phase (around 18 seconds). As such it was Cllr Clark’s opinion that the public consultation was flawed.
Cllr Clark stated, “The new 'temporary' closure plan is a compromise, suggested by officers last summer, after I had raised a strong objection to construction starting in Spring 2022. In suggesting the plan, officers agreed to monitor and assess the impact of closure (without signalising Plains Avenue) on the road network and seek public feedback during the 6-month trial.
He continued “It is my view that a junction redesign should include keeping Cranborne Avenue open but given the situation that we were facing, I was pleased that officers agreed to hold off on the permanent change, giving residents a chance to give their feedback”
Cllr Clark concluded, “Residents I have spoken to fear that closure will increase congestion (as the current traffic managed by the light still needs to go somewhere) and will be a major impact on their quality of life. I share this concern and urge all residents to provide feedback to the consultation using the email [email protected] and consider also sending met their views at [email protected]