ProposalsÂ to revamp the entrance around Tonbridge railway station, together with the planned upgrades to the riverside areas, will give the town a valuable regeneration boost.
The £500,000 street scene improvements would be paid for through Kent County Council’s Local Growth Fund. The aim is to create a more welcoming gateway to the town.
Members of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Joint Transportation Board voted on Monday evening to hold a public consultation over the plans.
The move follows a study by Kent County Council that identified Tonbridge railway station as the busiest in the county. Surveys over the past year have highlighted a need to improve access to the busy commuter location.
Residents will be invited to submit their views from mid-November. Concerns over the safety of schoolchildren who use the station and are affected by the congestion at peak times means pupils will also be asked for their opinions.
As that consultation gets underway, work is also due to start on a £300,000 environmental upgrade at River Walk, close to Tonbridge Castle, which is part of the £2.65million High Street improvement scheme.
The majority of the work in the High Street was completed in the summer – although workmen were back this week repairing the pavement outside The Pavilion.
The River Walk enhancements will include extending the new paving design that has been a central feature of the wider regeneration project, and improvement of street furnishings to make the most of the riverside frontage.
According to county council officers, options for the train station area upgrade include the removal of the bus stop immediately outside the site’s main entrance, which would provide a more open area of public space.
There are also plans to create a diagonal pedestrian crossing from the station towards Priory Road, which would be the first of its kind in the county.
A three-way light control on Waterloo Road, where it joins the B2260 north and south, is being considered to increase pedestrian safety at peak times.
There are also proposals to remove an existing busy lay-by outside Lidl to make way for an area of open space, with a new bus stop for three vehicles being created nearby.
While the project was generally well received by the Transportation Board, councillors raised several areas of concerns, including plans to potentially re-route traffic using Priory Road, as well as whether decreasing speed limits to 20mph should be considered.
Howard Porter, Chair of the Tonbridge Town Team, welcomed the consultation. He said: “The issues with congestion at Tonbridge station definitely need looking at. Anything that can be done to improve public transport and draw people to the town is positive.”