Work on a major scheme to reduce congestion and create a new public space in the heart of Dartford kicks off on Monday July 1st.
Brewery Square, a name chosen to celebrate a historic connection with the town’s brewing industry, aims to improve traffic flows in Market Street, raise local air quality and provide new parking for shoppers as well as better links between Central Park and the High Street.
Once completed, the Brewery Square scheme will offer a simplified road layout and new public spaces for town centre shoppers and visitors.
A key aim of
the project is to eliminate congestion caused by queuing to enter the ‘Iceland’
short stay car park in Market Street. The existing car park will be closed and
replaced by a larger car park nearby in the grounds of Acacia Hall behind
Dartford Library. Once opened, the new car park will offer direct access for
vehicles through the existing Overy Liberty entrance and new pedestrian gates will
lead straight on to Brewery Square.
Project manager Keith Longley said “We initially hoped we could redesign the existing Iceland car park but every potential design either failed to reduce congestion or proved impractical on safety grounds. We know that a short stay car park close to the town centre is very popular so we will be creating a new one just yards away. Sadly, we can’t provide the new car park until the first phase of Brewery Square is complete so we are providing as much on-street parking as possible and asking town centre visitors to use other shopping centre and council car parks around the town until we can get the new car park open. We appreciate the loss of car parking spaces during construction will be inconvenient for shoppers and businesses but we will be working hard to ensure the new car park is operational by Spring 2020.
The start of
work also means changes for some London-bound bus passengers as Transport for
London (TfL) bus stops are relocated from Market Street to Home Gardens as part
of the project. The move will create a single TfL boarding point for both
eastbound and westbound services close to The Orchard Theatre.
Local services provided by Arriva and Go-Coach will remain largely unaltered although buses will now stop around the corner in Lowfield Street rather than in the new Brewery Square. Existing stops for local services at Holy Trinity Church are unaltered.
The existing bus stops in Market Street will close on July 1st.
Keith Longley says “The current layout of bus stops is far from ideal and means westbound TfL services stop in an entirely different place from eastbound ones. It makes sense to locate town centre TfL bus stops in a single place and for them to link with Dartford rail station and Fastrack services. The removal of London bound buses from Market Street will cut town centre congestion and significantly improve the environment for town visitors. The new arrangements will be safer, cleaner and less confusing. We appreciate it does mean a change in routine for some passengers but we’re sure the new arrangements will soon become familiar.”
The work has been timed to take place alongside the redevelopment of Lowfield Street and is scheduled to finish by Summer 2020.
Market Street will remain open throughout the construction period although a number of temporary weekend closures are anticipated when contractors have no practical or safe alternative. These closures will be clearly advertised. Access to Central Park, the Library, the museum and memorial gardens will be unaffected and all town centre and park events will proceed as normal.
Council Leader Jeremy Kite said, “I’m afraid that any change to road layouts will mean some inconvenience during construction but Dartford must take action to tackle some of the congestion and air-quality issues we have in the town centre. It’s the ideal time to do it because it coincides with work on Lowfield Street and means we can minimise the time the town faces disruption.
By next Summer, the town will have a much cleaner, safer and simplified road layout as well as a much more attractive public space at the heart of the town. Attention will then turn to improving the High Street and the creation of a traditional market-town environment for shoppers, diners and visitors.”
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