Local Businesses Fear Closure as Plans to Restore A226 Galley Hill Road in Swanscombe Face Delays

Plans to reopen and restore A226 Galley Hill Road in Swanscombe have been discussed, but local businesses are warning that time is quickly running out for them.

After nine months of being closed due to a landslide, four options have been proposed to repair the collapsed road.

At a recent meeting with local councillors and residents, Kent County Council (KCC) revealed that they have yet to gain access to the site on the A226 Galley Hill Road.

This is despite the road first crumbling in April of last year, with businesses expressing concerns that they may not survive if there is no concrete plan to reopen the road.

During the meeting at Swanscombe Heritage Hall, KCC Highways representative Toby Howe explained the slow progress, citing the involvement of multiple parties and ongoing legal issues.

He confirmed that a contract has been secured with a company to investigate and stabilize the cliff, but work cannot begin until the legal issues have been resolved.

While non-intrusive surveys have been conducted to assess the stability of the cliff, further investigation is needed before repair work can commence.

According to Mr. Howe, there are two landowners involved in the process and a license is required to work on their property.

He expressed hope that the council will be granted access to the site next month to assess the extent of the damage and begin the repair process.

In the meantime, four options have been discussed to fix the damaged road between Swanscombe High Street and Ebbsfleet United Football Club’s Kuflink Stadium in Northfleet.

These options include repairing the road quickly, creating a single carriageway with traffic lights, building a retaining wall and relocating businesses at the base of the cliff, or constructing a suspended road.

However, as KCC has not been able to assess the damage, the cost of these options cannot be estimated. Mr. Howe believes that it will require a multimillion-pound scheme and is hoping for assistance from central government.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, who attended the meeting, expressed frustration with the lack of progress and emphasized the need for a resolution as soon as possible.

Minister for Roads and Transport Guy Opperman, who was visiting Kent on the same day, stated that his door is open to discuss the issue with KCC.

Councillor Peter Harman, who led the meeting, expressed his concerns about the impact on residents and businesses and called on Thames Water to take more responsibility as the collapse was caused by a burst water pipe.

One resident who has attended all three meetings expressed disappointment in the lack of progress and fears that the issue will continue for years.

MP Johnson also highlighted the urgency of the situation, as the closure has caused significant traffic and could potentially result in loss of life during emergencies.

One business that has been severely affected by the closure is MBC Dispatch Racing, located next to the closed road. Owner Michael Cheel has experienced significant financial losses and a lack of passing trade, with no idea where to go for help or compensation.

He expressed frustration with the slow progress and concerns that his business may not survive until the road is reopened.

Another resident meeting is planned for April, on the one-year anniversary of the collapse, where more updates are expected to be shared.

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