by Cllr Simon Cook, leader of Canterbury City Council
It’s really great news that Kent County Council has agreed to support the idea of an eastern bypass for Canterbury.
Even in the short time since our transport strategy was put together, life has not stood still.
The future growth of Canterbury is likely to be more than expected just a few years ago. Our economy continues to develop and we are clearly a centre for growth for the Thames Estuary.
Our universities are adding facilities like the new engineering centre at Canterbury Christ Church University and the medical school.
The coming years will no doubt see further growth, particularly as businesses are developed from university research.
Canterbury is not an island. Progress in east Kent as a whole is starting to gather momentum. Just look at our neighbours in Ashford in particular and in Thanet, Dover and Folkestone.
So why a bypass linking the A28 at Sturry with the A2 at Bridge? Well, we all know how congested Canterbury can be at times.
The ring road is often clogged up and this has implications for air quality.
It’s not necessarily the volume of traffic that leads to poorer air quality, but congestion. You can see this from the map published last week.
If we can take some pressure off of the centre of Canterbury by moving cars and trucks that don’t really want to be there around the city, that can only be a good thing.
Even in 30 years’ time, when electric vehicles become commonplace and pollution is a thing of the past, congestion will still be an issue.
We need to look at the bigger picture, too. For historical reasons, Canterbury sits at the centre of the road network in this part of the world.
We solved the A2 going through the middle of Canterbury in the 1970s and who would imagine that would be sensible now?
Should the main road between Ashford and Thanet really be pinched around the centre of Canterbury?
Communication links in east Kent and the economy in general would be vastly improved by allowing a quicker journey past Canterbury.
This is only the very beginning of a very long process. That’s why it’s essential to start the work now as we start to look beyond the current plans.
There will be huge amounts of work for highways engineers, planners, consultations, council decisions and much more as we work out the options for potential routes.
And not forgetting the money needs to be found. None of this will be easy, but without both councils having this intention, none of this would be possible.