A264 closure – Gas Network Upgrade

Poster from SGN - text in article

SGN will be upgrading the gas network in the Pembury Road area of Tunbridge Wells. This work will upgrade the old metal gas mains and services with new plastic pipe.

The contractor, WCB Utilities will be starting work on 29th May in Sandown Park, Sandown Close, Sandown Grove and Swallow Drive. Due to the position of the pipes in the road, and to ensure the safety of everyone around our worksite SGN will need to close some of the roads around the works area. This work has been scheduled for the school holiday period to try to reduce disruption as much as possible.

The works in Pembury Road will start from 24th July with an estimated end date of 1st September. The work will be from the junctions with the A21/A228 to the junction with Sandown Park. Cornford Lane will also be closed at its’ junction with Halls Hole Road during this time to discourage drivers from attempting to use it as an unsuitable diversion route.

While the roads are closed, there will be signed diversion routes in place and access will be maintained for residents and businesses.

Pembury Parish Council have contacted SGN and below is a list of questions raised and answers from SGN:

Q: Why does the whole road have to be closed. Could there be traffic lights instead?
A: When the old gas main was laid it was diverted around other existing underground services, so at many points it is situated towards the middle of the road. This gas main is also a strategically important pipe that helps ensure the gas flow to the wider area. This means that when they work on the existing pipe to replace it, this interrupts the gas flow. To keep the gas flowing at the right pressures they have to install a temporary gas pipe above ground as a bypass around each section as they work on it. The temporary pipe and the holes dug out have to be protected by a barrier system and a safety zone to keep the workers and public safe. Once this has been set up, there will not be the required amount of space to get even a single lane of traffic past our work, therefore there is a full road closure

Q: Will there be pedestrian access?
A: Yes, pedestrian and cyclists (dismounted) will be able to walk through the work

Q: Will there be vehicular access to Tesco?
A: Yes, they will not be working at the entrance to Tesco’s so access will not be affected. People will need to follow the diversion route if coming from the Tunbridge Wells side of Pembury Road though. Access from Pembury will be unaffected.

Q: Why can’t Cornford Lane be one way all the way along?
A: SGN are closing Cornford Lane as it is not a suitable diversion route. If they try to implement a one way system this will encourage people to use it for that purpose. SGN commented that from experience that a number of determined drivers would ignore the one way instruction to avoid the closure, which could result in an extremely unsafe situation. In order to prevent that, and in full agreement with the residents of Cornford Lane and on the instruction of Kent Highways, SGN will be putting temporary concrete barriers in at the Halls Hole Lane junction.

Q: What will happen to emergency vehicles, hospital staff travelling arrangements etc?
A: SGN are in contact with the emergency services/hospital to keep them advised of the progress of work and they will be using the publicised diversion route.

Q: Why can’t the work be done night time only?
A: This is complex work – replacement of the existing gas main and services to adjoining properties. There would not be enough time to do all the work at night and return the road to a drivable condition each day. The contractor will be working extended hours 7am-7pm Monday to Friday, Saturday 8am-6pm and Sundays 9am to 4pm

Q: Could the removal of the traffic lights at Halls Hold Road not be removed at the same?
A: From discussions with Kent Highways this work has not reached the land agreement or planning stage so unfortunately SGN would not be able to work collaboratively with Kent Highways on this.

Q: Could we have details of bus routes during Road Closure.
A: Arriva Bus and Hams Travel will be working closely with Kent Public Transport to decide on what routes they can run during the closure, and any diversions or connecting buses that may be required. These details will be published via the individual companies websites as soon as they are able.

Diversions Routes

The planned diversions routes are shown below. These will be confirmed nearer the start of the works:

Map of diversion route