There has been increased discussion about a new link between the M2 and A2 in Faversham. I looked at this a couple of years ago, studying two options and considering the issues these raise.
The first option, Option A, runs between Junction 6 in the south east and the Western Link in the north west. The second, Option B, runs approximately north-south from the Western Link to a new junction on the M2:
The first issue to consider is the length of each route since longer routes will typically be more expensive to construct. Option B is shorter:
The second issue is the cost of the junction at the M2. Option B requires an entirely new junction whereas Option A makes use of the existing Junction 6:
The third issue concerns the impact of each route on historic buildings. Option A runs close to St Peter & St Paul Ospringe:
The fourth issue to consider is the design of the route itself. A fast suburban highway or a slow-speed urban street? Both can carry the same volume of vehicles. It’s a question of visual character, of safety, of air quality, of pedestrian and cycle friendliness and of junction capacity. Slower streets beat faster roads on every count.
Option A could be designed as a street serving buildings either side of it. These could include industrial, job-creating buildings eg warehouses, located closer to the motorway, that would free up the current warehouses on the north-west side of town to be redeveloped as housing. Option B could also be designed as a slower route, with buildings along parts of its eastern edge and even some on its western edge.
The fifth issue concerns directness and topography. Option A is indirect with multiple level changes whereas Option B is straight and generally level:
The sixth issue is the impact of each option on the environment. Both pass through high quality landscapes but Option B passes close by, and partly through, the Syndale Conservation Area:
For this reason I developed a variant of Option B, which avoids the Syndale Conservation Area:
Technically Option A in red is a boulevard (because it is an orbital route) not an avenue (which would be a radial route). So I have called it “Faversham Boulevard”.
Option B in blue and Option C in red are closer to being radial routes so I have called these “Faversham Avenue”.
It need not be an either/or choice between Faversham Boulevard and Faversham Avenue. Both could be constructed, which would give the town resilience in the event that one of the motorway junctions were out of action (eg because of accident/repair).
There might also be a new public square where the two routes meet.
After all, it’s what towns have done for millennia.
But is the link even needed in the first place? Is the answer to traffic problems to keep building roads? Don’t new roads just generate more traffic? My view is that, if it is just a road that is built then, yes, it will just create more traffic. However, if it is a slow-speed street, lined with buildings and providing connections into neighbouring developments then it is an entirely different and potentially beneficial proposition.
As settlements grow they need to provide new main streets to add to the existing network of primary routes. Secondary routes then connect off the primary network, interlinking to form a network of local streets. This hierarchy of primary and secondary streets allows new commercial uses to be focused on the main streets so that they can both be accessed by local people and can benefit from passing through traffic. It’s how traditional towns work.
Just building secondary residential streets and bypasses is not traditional and does not make commercial sense.
Far from seeing these new routes as bypasses or relief roads, my view is that any new, primary link should be designed as part of Faversham’s network of main streets, designed for all modes of transport, lined by trees and buildings, with vehicles moving at a sedate and people-friendly pace, not thundering through.
Therefore, rather than displacing the problem of traffic onto “relief” roads we need to embrace it and transform it by building main streets.