While our main focus is on residential and commercial building design, we do have a keen interests on local matters, and recently the proposed closure of Cornford Lane has been raised.
There has been great controversy pertaining to this and the associated Hall’s Hole Road ‘rat run’, with the most recent addition of traffic lights on the intersection to Pembury Road. In our view this was a highly questionable decision, for instance during off-peak times a single car exiting Hall’s Hole Road, stops the traffic movement on a very busy Pembury Road, going into Tunbridge Wells. It would be interesting to know how many other B roads throughout Kent have A and B Road traffic light configurations. Moreover, the width of Hall’s Hole Road is not suited for heavy vehicle use, this creates bottlenecks beyond those caused by normal vehicles.
Having used Cornford Lane and consequently Hall’s Hole Road in a medium sized car, there is no doubt it can be a gamble which risks minor vehicle damage as well as delays due to inappropriate vehicles using the lane. There are several ‘squeeze’ points which rely upon the competence and forward planning of road users, which by definition of being in a hurry, there is a good chance they will lack.
In our mind, there are four groups of users:
- Residents of Cornford Lane / Hall’s Hole Road
- Normal cars using the road as a shortcut during peak hours
- Normal cars using the road as a shortcut during off-peak hours
- Larger vehicles
The residents cannot be considered a problem in any way, as their residence is situated on the road in question.
Normal passenger cars are forced to either leave earlier or use the cut through due to the congestion on Pembury Road in the direction of Tunbridge Wells. There is no evidence, but increased congestion could have been created by the recently installed traffic lights on the intersection of Pembury Road and Hall’s Hole Lane.
Low circulation use is active during off-peak traffic periods, such as 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm and in the late evenings.
Larger vehicles (i.e. transit vans & vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes) use the road as a cut through to avoid the Pembury Road congestion.
The most recent solution is to close Cornford Lane, and while this would provide residents with a safer highway adjacent to their property, we would sincerely hope that the removal of Pembury Road traffic lights would be planned in conjunction with the closure. A further option would be a phased plan of work, starting with the restriction of access to specific vehicle types to the road, via height restrictions controlled by the residents. While constant during peak hours, this would allow for a better flow of traffic during the 2 hours of peak use per week day.
An alternative to a complete road closure could be to make the road one way at specific times of the day and in specific directions opposed to surveyed traffic flow. The disadvantage to this is possible resident confusing leading to head-on impacts, due to an assumption that no oncoming traffic exists.
The affect heuristic does have to be taken into account with every opinion, we may be bias should we be regular users of a road proposed for closure. We currently do not use Cornford Lane or Hall’s Hole Road as they can be more problematic and risk vehicle damage. Additionally, most of our appointments are during off-peak times of the day, therefore we are not affected by severe congestion, but always leave early as a precaution. We do not know any of the residents personally, and this should be taken into consideration.
The infamous bigger picture.
As one of the team rides a motorcycle, there is another perspective gained from this viewpoint, and that is that the majority of vehicles heading into Tunbridge Wells at peak times, carry only one passenger, in cars with 4 seats. There is no question that every road user has the right to their own space, comfort and security during transit to a place of work, we are curious how congested a road leading into a city has to become, before this is addressed. In the past ‘car shares’ have been promoted, although sadly with little effect as far as we are aware. Public transport still has it’s stigma, assumed to be associated with low income users only. It also has the disadvantage of not being ‘door to door’ service, furthermore it has a schedule beyond the control of the commuter, making it a less appealing alternative.
CPA Planning Design is working on a concept that ‘may’ be a solution to all cities, which takes into account the perception of public transport, and utilises the existing infrastructure. This will be available for consultancy within the next 1-2 years.