Issue details

22/00025 - Bearsted Road Highway Improvement Scheme

Proposed decision:  

To give approval to:

     i.      Adopt the Bearsted Road dualling scheme shown on Drawing (Drg.) No. 70040984-SK-0086 for development control, land charge disclosures and implementation;

    ii.     Retain the current scheme for widening Bearsted Road to three lanes scheme shown on Drg. No.70040984-SK-0087;

   iii.      Delegate the decision to decide which of the two scheme options (Drg. No. 70040984-SK-0086 or Drg. No.70040984-SK-0087) is delivered to the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment & Transport under the Officer Scheme of Delegations following the views of this Committee and after prior consultation with the Cabinet Member;

   iv.      Give authority to enter into the appropriate land, development and funding agreements and the award of the construction contract, and all other acts and consents and any subsidiary contracts required to allow the scheme to be implemented;

    v.      Delegate to the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment & Transport, under the Officer Scheme of Delegations following prior consultation with the Cabinet Member, any further or other decisions as may be appropriate to deliver the Bearsted Road scheme;

   vi.      Confirm that other decisions in Record of Decision 18/00026 remain extant.


Reason for the decision:

Approval of highway improvement scheme proposals and authority to award the construction contract and enter land, development, and funding agreements.


The A249 Bearsted Road scheme is an important infrastructure improvement which aims to address congestion in Maidstone. It has been successful in unlocking external funding from the Department for Transport under the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).


The current Bearsted Road scheme involves widening Bearsted Road to three lanes (two in the eastbound and one in the westbound direction), signalising the ‘Next’ roundabout and enlarging and signalising the New Cut (KIMs) roundabout, together with an alternative access and service roads to the Newnham Court Shopping Village.


The main Bearsted Road part of the scheme can proceed as Permitted Development but related aspects for a new access road into Newnham Court Shopping Village and sustainable drainage measures with Maidstone Crematorium required planning consents which were granted in February 2022.


Construction tenders have been invited and a preferred contractor selected.  This enabled an advance works contract to be let during 2021 for ecology works and utility trial hole investigations aimed at providing some cost certainty for one of the significant construction risks.


The current adopted scheme is therefore ready to proceed but there were several issues that needed to be resolved:

      i.       a review of the scheme using KCC’s new Countywide transport model has questioned some of the modelling assessments and whether theoretical junction operation reflects how traffic operates in practice;

    ii.      whether travel behaviour has changed given the larger emphasis on active travel as the county emerges from the Covid pandemic and the impact of Brexit is realised, particularly as the A249 forms part of the resilience network;

   iii.      the inter relationship with M20 junction 7, particularly in the absence of imminent improvements;

   iv.      whether, as an authority, KCC have been bold enough with the scheme design bearing in mind the significance of this route for local traffic and the impact of future maintenance requirements (although the need to minimise land take still needs to be considered);

    v.      buildability aspects and opportunities to minimise construction inconvenience following discussions with the appointed contractor; and

   vi.      the cost and funding.


Further investigation has identified that a two-lane dualling option would provide improved capacity, better pedestrian and cycling connectivity and be easier to build with less disruption to road users.  The dualling option would also make it possible for future traffic incidents or maintenance requirements following completion to be catered for under lane closures, therefore enabling a two-way flow of traffic to be maintained and minimising congestion.


Options (other options considered but discarded):

1.    Do Nothing – discarded as congestion needs to be addressed to cater for future growth in this location.  Doing nothing would result in £2.27m of abortive costs and reputational risk given the planning consents have been achieved, and the capacity and active travel benefits of the preferred scheme would not be realised.

2.    Do Something - To signalise the A249 Bearsted Road (Next roundabout) and enlarge and signalise the Bearsted Road/New Cut Road roundabouts and widen Bearsted Road to provide 3 lanes between the roundabouts.  The estimated cost to deliver this option is £13.4m.

3.    Do Optimum - To deliver the improvements in Option 2 and widen Bearsted Road between the roundabouts to provide a 4-lane dual carriageway and a shared footway/cycleway on the southern side of Bearsted Road between the crematorium and New Cut Road.  For an additional £1.256m, improved capacity, better footway and cycleway facilities and a more resilient network would be achieved.

4.    Do Maximum - This would deliver all of the improvements from Option 3, plus signalisation and capacity enhancements at the A249 junction with the M20 Junction 7.   Improvements to M20 J7 have been a longstanding ambition and although can be funded through developer contributions, these will not be received in time to enable delivery alongside the Bearsted Road scheme. Although the developers have entered into S106 agreements, their payments are linked to key trigger dates, therefore several external funding bids have previously been submitted to Central Government. KCC will continue to develop the proposals alongside MBC and future grant and loan opportunities will be explored, but this Do Maximum option is not currently viable. 


The preferred option is Option 3 as the construction will be less disruptive, it will provide improved capacity, better pedestrian and cycling connectivity and will enable future roadworks and maintenance activities to be carried out with less disruption to the travelling public.


How the proposed decision meets the priority actions of Setting the Course: Kent County Council’s Interim Strategic Plan (December 2020):

The scheme supports Kent business and housing growth and encourages economic activity to benefit the local and wider communities by improving the highway infrastructure to reduce congestion, provide more reliable journey times and improve accessibility and public transport links.


Financial Implications:

Budget 21/22 – Section 5 – Capital Investment Plans by Directorate (HT&W) Row 43 Kent Medical Campus (National Productivity Investment Fund)

Table 1: Identified funding








Prior Years












Banked (no deadline for spend)







Agreed subject to written agreement

Maidstone BC






Agreed subject to written agreement

Covid recovery Fund







Lane Rental Fund







Capital reallocation (Including Preliminary design)







S106 (including M20 J7 design)







Total Identified Funding








The scheme is fully funded by the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), S106 contributions, other contributions and agreed sources of capital funding.

The overall estimated cost to deliver Option 4 is £13,582,000 and a risk allowance of £1,074,207 has been added to this – giving a total construction cost of £14,656,150.  The construction estimate is considered robust, with the benefit of being based on tender returns, and adequate contingency has been allowed for in terms of price inflation and risk. Further synergies could be delivered if the M20 Junction 7 scheme proceeds and is fully funded, and external funding opportunities for this element will continue to be explored.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Division affected: Maidstone North East; Maidstone Rural East;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 08/03/2022

Decision due: Not before 6th Apr 2022 by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Lead director: Philip Lightowler

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Barry Stiff, Project Manager, Major Projects Email: Tel: 03000 419377.


A report will be taken to Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 17th March 2022.

Financial implications: Please see above.

Legal implications: All necessary planning consents have been granted. Land for the scheme is required from Harvestore, owners of the Newnham Court Shopping Village, and land for the sustainable drainage element within the Crematorium grounds from Maidstone Borough Council. Both parties are supportive and draft agreements are being progressed.

Equalities implications: The current updated EQIA Assessment will be included with the Committee Report. The main negative impacts identified in the EQIA are concerned with impacts due to disruption during the construction period. The delivery of the scheme will improve infrastructure and will be deemed to have a positive impact for most of the protected categories, in particular Age, Disability and Gender (including pregnancy and maternity). A DPIA is not required for the scheme.