‘Great progress’ on Pembury Road gas works

Picture credit: Martin Bryant MEB Drones

SGN Southern Gas Networks has confirmed that the gas works which have closed Pembury Road for six weeks are on schedule to finish on time for a reopening at the beginning of September.

Spokesman Dan Brown told the Times: “Our engineers are making great progress replacing our old pipes along A264 Pembury Road.

“We’re currently on schedule to complete our work and reopen the road by Friday September 1.”

The route remains open for cyclists, although the company cautioned that it might have to dig across the cycle path at certain points.

“We may need to close the cycle lane for safety when we reach certain sections to connect to pipes adjoining the main in the road,” said Mr Brown.

“Temporary walkways, no more than 10m long, will be in place around excavations in the cycle lane, required to make the network connections.”

There would be no weight restriction on these potential temporary walkways, he added.

Although the gasworks remain on track for completion, one organisation that has been greatly impacted by the closure is Aspens charity, which has its main site in Cornford Lane. During the works, the road has been blocked off from the Tunbridge Wells side to prevent it being used as a rat run.

Aspens’ Bluebell Café and animal farm have remained open throughout the works, running summer holiday activities, including an activity trail, ceramic painting and bubble-tea making.

However, Aspens CEO Robert Shanahan raised concerns about access restrictions impacting donations to the charity, which provides care and support to people on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities across the South East.

“Income raised through our Bluebell Café and visitor donations provide vital funds to help our work,” he told the Times.

There is still road access to Cornford Lane from Pembury High Street, and foot and cycle access from the Halls Hole Road side, he stressed.

“We are hoping the local community will continue to support us by coming for a visit over the summer, but with people reluctant to venture out due to the road closures, we will inevitably lose valuable donations during this time,” he warned.

The charity also had some concerns about the ability of emergency vehicles to access the Cornford Lane site, where Aspens’ residential and supported living properties and day opportunities centre are also located.

He added: “We are managing the situation well and our free staff shuttlebus will still be running on a diverted route through this time.”

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