Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, local politicians and business leaders officially marked the opening of the multi-million pound congestion-busting Longfield Road Improvement Scheme by planting a tree.
In response to calls from businesses and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to tackle the congestion that was blighting the retail park, Kent County Council developed plans to improve access to North Farm and then secured £3.5million funding from the Department for Transport to enable the scheme to go ahead.
The additional funding for the £7.35m scheme came from developer funding and a contribution from the County Council.
The upgrade involved dualling one kilometre of the carriageway between Dowding Way roundabout and the A21 and replacing existing traffic signals with roundabouts.
There is also a shared footway and cycleway along the improved road.
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who is Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “This is certainly a day for celebration – sorting out the traffic nightmare of North Farm is a massive step forward.
“This project is a great example of team work between the Government, Kent County Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and local landowners, and I’m grateful to all of them for their efforts.
“It shows what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.”
Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transportation, said: “I’m delighted this scheme is in use – benefitting shoppers, local business and residents in Tunbridge Wells – and we would like to thank them all for bearing with us during the last year.
“Construction was very challenging because it involved working along a road that was heavily congested to start with.
“We imposed an embargo on work during heavy trading periods, such as Christmas, and wherever possible planning work so that it was carried out with the least impact on traffic, for example surfacing the road at night.”
David Jukes, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Leader said: “The completion of the improvement scheme is good for Tunbridge Wells residents and businesses and I am delighted we were able to work together to make it happen.”
David Aisher, Director of Drakes Plumbing Supplies, who worked with many of the North Farm businesses to obtain agreement and funding for the road improvements, said: “I am very pleased that both the County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council finally got behind this scheme after the North Farm businesses raised their concerns.
“We knew that it was not going to be an easy job to do from the outset and greatly appreciate all the work that went into making it happen.
“We are also very grateful for the tremendous effort that has been made to keep the local businesses disrupted as little as possible and the public informed with public exhibitions and newsletters.
“A big thank you to the contractors, Lafarge Tarmac, for delivering the project.”
Warren Perrin, General Manager, Tarmac Contracting South East, said: “We’ve been pleased to work alongside the local community, local businesses and in partnership with Kent County Council to successfully deliver this challenging project and minimise disruption.”