The group of MPs whose constituencies lie along the A21 have welcomed a new decision by Highways England to bring forward by five years comprehensive plans to upgrade safety along the route. The decision follows a meeting between the MPs and the Roads Minister in June in which the case was made to advance the works.
The upgrade will create consistent and standardised conditions along the single carriageway section together with improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.
In the Government’s Road Investment Strategy published in March the upgrade was not scheduled to begin until 2025 for completion by 2030.
Dissatisfied with this timetable, the MPs on the A21 route - Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells), Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle), Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling), Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) and Laura Trott (Sevenoaks) met with the Roads Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton in June to push for this to be brought forward.
Highways England have now announced a change of heart: they will now commence their route strategy process in the autumn, with the upgrades due for completion by 2025.
Greg Clark said: “As anyone who has driven along the A21 knows, once you get south of Kippings Cross large sections of the road are more like a narrow and windy country lane than the main route between London and Hastings. This makes journeys slower, more congested and more dangerous than they should be. The Minister’s decisive intervention, following her meeting with A21 MPs, is a big step forward A21 and is the latest step in our campaign to make the A21 into a safe, fast modern trunk road throughout all its length from the M25 to Hastings.”
Huw Merriman said: “This is welcome news and I would like to thank the Roads Minister personally for intervening on this matter after hearing our case. These are absolutely essential road safety improvements for this key trunk road in our constituencies. I am pleased that they will now be brought forward for earlier completion. For village communities like Hurst Green and Whatlington, these improvements can’t come soon enoug. This extra investment should be a welcome step but we all know that dualling is the key to unlocking a better road and economic regeneration.”
Sally Ann Hart said: “This is good news for the residents of Hastings and Rye, and all those that use the A21 from Hastings to the M25. As many will know it not only requires further dualling, but more urgently it needs safety improvements all the way along. I am thrilled that the work of the A21 Reference Group has paid dividends already in this Parliament and we are seeing this work taking place sooner than planned. As a group we will continue to fight tirelessly for a better A21 for all our residents and businesses, but this is a good start and I look forward to getting more improvements to this road in the future.”