Public inquiry date for A21 2.5-mile widening scheme

Queuing traffic on the A21
Queuing traffic on the A21

A DATE for the public inquiry into the upgrading a section of the A21 which links Hastings to London has been announced.

The inquiry into upgrading the 2.5-mile Tonbridge to Pembury section from single to dual carriageway will start on May 14.

Hastings Borough Council leader Jeremy Birch welcomed the announcement, saying: “We have been campaigning for a long time to improve Hastings’ transport links, and the A21 is a vital link between Hastings and London and, indeed, the rest of the country.

“This single lane section between two dual carriageway sections, starting as it does just at the junction bringing traffic from Tonbridge, is a well-known bottleneck and the real hold-up point on the A21. Tackling that will make a real difference. And it’s not just about improving journey times, essential though that is, it’s about improving safety too. The A21 is one of the most dangerous roads in the country, between 2006 and 2010, there were 77 serious and fatal crashes on 14 miles of the road which equates to 5.5 accidents per mile. This puts it at the top of the Road Safety Foundation’s league of Britain’s busy, higher risk roads.”

Amber Rudd, Hastings MP, added: “We have all been campaigning for this for a long time and the public inquiry marks a big advance for our campaign.”

On March 25, the Highways Agency will be holding a pre-inquiry meeting at which the inspector will announce the procedure for submitting evidence. The inquiry is expected to last between two and three weeks. If the scheme gets the go-ahead, construction could start as early as 2015.