Residents of Britain’s smallest city are at war with a city council over plans to build a ring road that many fear would ‘destroy’ the landscape.
The historic town of Fordwich – home to some 300 people – is in talks with Canterbury City Council following proposals to cut a ring road through a conservation area.
Adrian McCarthy, mayor of the town of 180, claimed it would ‘dominate’ the area, adding that the plans were ‘designed to benefit Canterbury, not Fordwich’.
Fordwich’s status as Britain’s smallest town could also be jeopardized, he claimed, as the road could potentially add more pressure to create green spaces.
“The beautiful fields we have around us on one side will disappear. It will destroy ancient forests that Henry VIII hunted. It will make farmland uncultivable,” he said.
Residents of Britain’s smallest city are at war with the city council over plans to build a bypass. Pictured: The route of the proposed Canterbury City Council ring road
The new ring road would follow the treeline behind the campaigners in Fordwich, Canterbury
‘It goes right through a protected nature reserve. It will cut off pedestrian and bicycle paths. It will destroy important Kentish landscape features. It causes air, sound and light pollution in our city. It’s a huge problem.
‘The bypass is designed to benefit Canterbury, not Fordwich. The road goes right through us and cuts us in half.’
The controversial ring road proposals appeared in Canterbury City Council’s (CCC) draft local plan, which outlines intentions to build 13,000 homes and transform the city into five zones.
Traffic mitigation solutions are required as part of the housing objective, including the construction of the Fordwich bypass.
But Adrian claimed the ring road would only worsen traffic as Fordwich was already being used as a rat escape to and from Canterbury.
He continued, “Recent traffic monitoring showed as many as 6,000 cars passing through the city in a day.
“My gut feeling is that the draft local plan, as it stands, will be tabled if there is no change in leadership in the May elections.”
Fordwich Town Council is challenging proposals with the expert help of planning law resident Greg Jones KC.
Mayor Adrian McCarthy (pictured) claimed the road would ‘dominate’ the area
Greg has written a 185-page document challenging the arguments put forward by Canterbury City Council in favor of the housing target.
His report concludes that the council has ‘failed’ to make a proper assessment of the environmental impact the ring road would have on Fordwich.
Greg wrote, ‘Overall, due to a lack of proper assessment, there’s a huge lack of detail, which really doesn’t help. It is impossible to assess effects effectively as we have no knowledge of the amount of mowing and raising which could have a drastic impact on the amount of land taken up and thus effects on things like TPO forests and Ancient Woodland. This is also likely to add hugely to cost and viability.
‘Visual effects would also depend on cutting and filling, among other things. A line on a map provides little information about this, for example, no assessment is made on matters such as lighting.
‘The same criticism can be leveled at the lack of assessment of the negative impacts of the currently preferred eastern bypass on the ecology, including on legally protected species and their habitats.
‘This lack of detail means it is extremely difficult to draw the full final conclusions on the adverse effect of the Eastern Bypass on the Fordwich landscape, other than the points above, all of them detrimental.
Canterbury City Council leader Alderman Ben Fitter-Harding (pictured) is a ‘strong advocate of an eastern ring road for Canterbury’ but says the countryside needs to be protected
“In addition, more generally, the simple fact that the currently preferred eastern bypass route is so much longer means that the effects on the overall landscape and visual resource are likely to be greater than the other routes.”
However, Councilor Ben Fitter-Harding, leader of Canterbury City Council and the Conservative Group, believes the new bypass would ease congestion in Fordwich.
He said: ‘I am very much in favor of an eastern bypass for Canterbury. Motorists are fed up with the city’s traffic congestion and Fordwich is fed up with vehicles trying to use the small roads.
“People are smart, given the opportunity to drive on a new road, they’re going to use it and that should mean that any sort of destination for Canterbury can be ruled out.
‘However, Fordwich is a very beautiful and historic town in our district, surrounded by countryside and in need of protection.
“The route for the Eastern Bypass is not yet finalized and I support Fordwich City Council and our local councilors for the area, Cllr Harvey-Quirke and Cllr Glover, in ensuring that both the City Council and County Council hear our concerns loud and clear .’
Canterbury City Council said it is currently working on feedback on the draft local plan and will decide on next steps after local elections in May.
A spokesperson added: ‘Consultation on the draft Local Plan closed in January. We had over 2,000 responses and are now working through that feedback before reporting to councilors and deciding on our next steps.
“This will be sometime after our elections in May, as national election guidelines make it clear that important or controversial decisions should not be made before the public goes to the polls.”