Kent County Council has expressed its disappointment at Swale Borough Council’s decision to oppose £38 million of government cash for local road improvements.
Swale Borough Council announced last week that it had decided not to support money earmarked by government for infrastructure improvements to support the Swale Local Plan, adopted by the borough council in 2017.
The £38.1 million was secured by the county council in November 2019 to improve the existing severe levels of congestion at the Grovehurst Roundabout at Kemsley and at Key Street roundabout which links the A2 with the A249 at Bobbing.
By using government’s £38.1m for road improvements, developer Section 106 contributions can, instead, be ‘recycled’ in the borough, tackling other shortfalls in local social and community infrastructure, including education and health.
Without the government investment of £38.1 million this recycling will not happen.
KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “It’s extremely disappointing news that Swale Borough Council has made this announcement.
“Regardless, we have decided that this infrastructure is desperately needed in Swale and it would be wholly irresponsible of the county council, as local highway authority, to reject a significant award of grant funding by central government that will address the existing levels of congestion and highway safety issues whilst providing the opportunity to tackle social and community infrastructure deficits which Swale Borough Council has itself identified.
“We were successful in our bid because it was recognised that better infrastructure is needed, and it is essential that housing growth is well planned with infrastructure funded and built in advance of the building of any new homes.
“I understand the frustration that councillors must feel with housing targets, however, rejecting major investment in critical infrastructure will not stop those houses being built on sites already allocated for development in Swale Borough Council’s own Local Plan.”
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne added: “Improvements to these junctions are highlighted as transport priorities for Swale in Kent County Council’s adopted Local Transport Plan 4: Delivering Growth without Gridlock.
“We worked closely with Swale Borough Council to develop our bid to support its adopted Local Plan and deliver better road infrastructure, so Swale’s announcement will be deeply disappointing for its residents.
“Left unaddressed, current levels of congestion experienced on a daily basis by drivers in Swale would simply get worse. That is not a position KCC can or will support.
“Furthermore, Swale has decided to pull its funding for the designing of planned improvements at the M2 junction 5.
“The Stockbury roundabout has one of the worse accident records of any junction of its kind in the country, and the delays to residents and business are unacceptable.
“KCC will continue to work with Highways England and government to deliver much needed improvements at junction 5 as quickly as possible.”