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RELIEF ROAD: Step forward in call for Leeds-Langley bypass - full details

Friday 16th October 2020

PROGRESS on making a Leeds-Langley relief road a reality took another small step forward a meeting of the influential Maidstone Joint Transportation Board (JTB).
Members of the JTB passed a resolution on Wednesday, tabled by Kent county councillor and long-time relief road campaigner Gary Cooke, to ask KCC's cabinet to adopt as policy closer working ties with the borough council to seek funding models.
It follows a letter sent by KCC highways cabinet member Cllr Michael Payne to the leader of Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) suggesting collaboration towards funding possibilities for the bypass.
The JTB heard the single track road might come with a price tag of £80-90m. 
Funding it through housing levies would require many thousands of houses but might prove faster. If part-paid by Government, might take considerably longer.
Cllr Cooke said: "I have been banging my head off a brick wall for years and years and now it seems there is movement. I welcome this development and salute all the councillors who voted in favour of my motion."
Among those in favour was Cllr Martin Cox, the Liberal Democrat MBC leader, who sounded a note of caution in that he needs to know "where it (the road) is going to be, what it's going to do, what it costs and what it will deliver".
But his support at this early stage will be seen as highly significant.
Some JTB members abstained. They await sight of a KCC report into the cost/benefit ratio of a bypass.

However, Cllr Cooke who helped commission the report says he has been assured the surveys meet the criteria to proceed.
Philip Coyne, who is in charge of overseeing the Local Plan Review at MBC, said that meetings are continuing with developers and landowners and said the letter from Cllr Payne to Cllr Cox was "very helpful but not as concrete as a firm resolution".
Such a commitment by KCC, which delivers roads, might persuade them to spend money to explore the viability of developing the Leeds -Langley corridor, he said. 

Mr Coyne said there is a need to work quickly because of the Government's plans to shake up the planning system and changes to method of calculating housing numbers.
Currently the B2163 carries a large volume of traffic through Leeds and Langley between the A20 and A274 in both directions.
Residents and some councillors have warned that MBC's massive housebuilding programme is not sustainable without better roads and progress in agreements on suitable infrastructure has been slow.
Much land around Leeds and Langley was submitted to last year's "call for sites" process but no "garden community" proposal was offered. Now MBC officers are talking to potential developers.

For the motion: Cllr Gary Cooke (Con), Cllr Paul Cooper (Con), Cllr Martin Cox (LD), Cllr Mike Cuming (Con), Cllr Clive English (LD), Cllr Bob Hinder (Con) and Cllr Ashleigh Kimmance (LD).
Against the motion: Eric Hotson (Con).
Abstained: Cllr Rob Bird (LD), Cllr Pam Brindle (Con), Cllr Ian Chittenden (LD), Cllr Brian Clark (LD) and Cllr Dan Daley (LD).