(1) Hadlow Road Link had been an aspiration for over 30 years. It was an expensive urban scheme that had not attracted either government or private sector development funding. The present economic climate, reduced funding and national transport policy made funding of a major scheme in a non growth area even more unlikely. The property held was deteriorating and several houses were boarded up because they were now unsuitable to be leased, making the area look ‘run down’, as well as the ongoing informal blight created by the presence of the proposal. Officers had been working with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council on a more appropriate transport strategy that recognised that the Link Road was undeliverable and should be abandoned.
(2) The disposal of the land and property would realise capital receipts in an estimated range of £1.4 - £1.8m. The revenue implications would be positive as the loss of reducing rental income was offset by the avoidance of security costs and the need for significant maintenance if the properties were to be retained. The Head of KCC Property had agreed (a) to release £250,000 from the future capital receipts in order to help pump prime the development and implementation of priority measures identified in the revised transport strategy; and (b) that the cost of the assessment work – some £25,000 - that had been required to develop a revised transport strategy would be netted off the future capital receipts.
(3) The removal of the blight and disposal of the land and property held would allow more beneficial use to be made of the land and property that together implicitly contributed to the core objective of ‘Help Kent Economy to Grow’. The scheme was identified in ‘Growth without Gridlock’ but progress towards meeting many of its core objectives could be more realistically achieved by a revised transport strategy.
(4) The report set out details of the scheme background; property aspects; and a review of the current Transport Strategy.
(5) Analysis identified that the Link Road was not essential to the implementation of the development in the Tonbridge Central Area Action Plan. Properties held were in a poor condition and needed to be sold so that the private sector could bring them into beneficial use and the capital receipts released for the wider public benefit. A revised joint transport strategy was being developed to reflect the current situation and the limited public sector that was available.
(6) RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member be recommended to approve that the proposed road scheme known as Hadlow Road Link be abandoned and no longer used for Land Charge disclosures or development control; and that land and property held for the scheme be declared surplus to highway requirements.