Westerham needs a new relief road to tackle town centre congestion, along with improved local facilities, according to visitors to the recent Which Way Westerham public exhibition.
The Which Way Westerham proposals include plans for a relief road, 360 market houses and 240 affordable ones to buy and rent to help local people get on the housing ladder, improvements for the GP surgery and primary school and upgrades to the town centre.
Of the 205 visitors to the exhibition who responded to a questionnaire carried out over the two days it was held, more than half (54%) agreed that Westerham needs a relief road to reduce town centre congestion, while a third (33%) disagreed.
The highest level of agreement was for the need to improve local services, such as the GP surgery and primary school with 59 per cent of respondents agreeing, compared to 33 per cent who disagreed.
On the issue of improvements to the town centre to support the local economy, more than half (52%) agreed there was a need for action compared to a third (35%) who disagreed.
Henry Warde of Which Way Westerham, said: “These responses are just a snapshot, but do show there are many who agree with the basic ideas behind Which Way Westerham.
“Our projections show the relief road would divert up to 70 per cent of the vehicles currently travelling through the town centre and help improve air quality, especially in and around Market Square.
“While we were a little disappointed that not more people attended our exhibition to view and discuss our plans with us, it does support the view that there is an acceptance among many local people of the need for progressive change in the town.”
On the issue of the environment, more than two-thirds of respondents (67%) agreed there was the need to protect and improve it, and 58 per cent agreed there was the need to reduce noise pollution from the nearby M25.
Henry Warde added: “We believe our proposals would secure a net-environmental gain for the town by improving noise and air quality, and importantly improving the quality of the AONB and creating new Common Land.”
On the issue of the need to build new homes for families, key workers and downsizers, 48 per cent agreed, while 39 per cent disagreed.
Henry Warde, added: “Residents might be surprised to learn that between 2001 and 2013 only 75 new homes were built in Westerham and Crockham Hill, far fewer than you might expect for a parish of this size and given the town’s role as an employment centre.
“The town has an aging population, and this is putting increased pressure on local health services. If we are to reverse the expected decline in the town’s population we must plan for the future and that means building more new homes that are within the reach of young workers and families, which in turn will sustain the number of pupils at the local school.
“Doing nothing is not an option, and we believe the Which Way Westerham proposals offer the best way of sustaining the town’s economy, environment and services.”
Views on the proposals can be submitted via