A21 road (England)

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For other roads with the same name see List of A21 roads.

A21 road shield

A21 road
A21 road map.png
Route information
Length: 63 mi (101 km)
Major junctions
Northwest end: London (Lewisham)51°27′25″N 0°00′49″W / 51.4569°N 0.0135°W / 51.4569; -0.0135Coordinates: 51°27′25″N 0°00′49″W / 51.4569°N 0.0135°W / 51.4569; -0.0135
  A20 A20 road
[ M 25  ] M25 motorway
A25 A25 road
A26 A26 road
A28 A28 road
A205 A205 road
A222 A222 road
A223 A223 road
A224 A224 road
A225 A225 road
A227 A227 road
A228 A228 road
A229 A229 road
A232 A232 road
A259 A259 road
A262 A262 road
A264 A264 road
A265 A265 road
A268 A268 road
A2014 A2014 road
A2100 A2100 road
A2101 A2101 road
A2102 A2102 road
A2211 A2211 road
A2212 A2212 road
Southeast end: Hastings50°51′40″N 0°33′30″E / 50.8611°N 0.5582°E / 50.8611; 0.5582
Location
Primary
destinations
:
Bromley
Sevenoaks
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Road network

The A21 is a major trunk road in Southern England and is one of the many connecting London and various commuter towns to the south coast. It provides a link to Hastings, East Sussex and parts of Kent. Half of the distance covered is over difficult terrain, and the hills and bends on the road result in slow-moving traffic, particularly during weekdays on the single carriageway stretches; and during the summer with holiday traffic.[1][2][3][4][5] Because of this, people have described the A21 as "a joke" and businesspeople have been reported to “hate coming down the A21”.[1] There have been many proposals to upgrade parts of the A21 in response to this.

Parts of the A21 follow the turnpike roads: one being the section from Sevenoaks to Tunbridge Wells, opened in 1710;[6] other sections of the road were similarly dealt with later in the century. The road between the M25 and Hastings is designated a trunk road, and is maintained and managed by the Highways Agency.

The A21 is used for the 55 miles (89 km) Maydayrun to Hastings in which motorcyclists ride from South London to the Hastings seafront. It claims to be the largest non-organised event in the UK,[2] attracting over 20,000 bikers.

Overall view of the road[edit]

A21 near Leigh, Kent

The A21 begins in Lewisham, almost 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of the centre of London. Passing through Catford, Bromley and Farnborough, twenty miles (32 km) from the start of the journey, it reaches the Kent border and the open countryside. Shortly afterwards the M25 is reached, which it multiplexes with for about 5 miles (8.0 km). At this point, the road becomes a trunk road, a distinction it has held since April 1977.[7] Afterwards, the remainder through Kent heads south east for around 26 miles (42 km). This section is mostly a dual carriageway, there is, however, a few short stretches of single carriageway, resulting in frequent Traffic Congestion, especially in peak periods. After the East Sussex border, the road is mostly a single carriageway route, sometimes with steep gradients. Another bypass takes the A21 around the narrow road through Salehurst and Robertsbridge. Immediately before Hastings is the final hill, almost four miles (6.4 km) in length.

History[edit]

Abandoned section near Lamberhurst

Parts of the A21 follow the turnpike roads: one being the section from Sevenoaks to Tunbridge Wells, opened in 1710;[6] other sections of the road were similarly dealt with later in the century.

Sections of the A21 were upgraded to a dual carriageway standard in stages in the 20th century. The Sevenoaks Bypass opened in 1966. The Pembury bypass opened in 1988.[8]

The Lamberhurst Bypass was opened on 23 March 2005 to a cost of £18 million. The A21 used to have steep inclines into the village and the valley of the River Bewl. Included in the scheme is a land bridge at Scotney Castle.[9] The scheme was constructed by May Gurney who planted 50,000 trees on the new road.[10]

The route in detail[edit]

London[edit]

A21 in Bromley, London

The A21 starts in Lewisham in London at a roundabout on the A20 known as "Loampit Vale Junction". From there the road uses various roads in Catford, where the A205 (the South Circular Road) crosses the A21; it runs south east up Bromley Hill to enter the London Borough of Bromley, where there are sections of dual carriageway, on the town‘s gyratory system (part of which is called Kentish Way) .

Up Masons Hill the road reaches Bromley Common, the first large-scale open space negotiated; briefly, just before Farnborough, the road becomes Hastings Road. The original A21 went though the suburb, the High Street is now the B2158. Until now the road has been in a south-easterly direction, but after Green Street Green it turns eastwards towards the valley of the River Darent, and it is at this point that the road pattern makes a complete change from its original route.

A21 through Chevening Interchange
Viaducts crossing the Medway Valley near Haysden
A21 at Forstal Farm Roundabout

The A21 originally entered Kent here and climbed to the scarp of the North Downs at Polhill, and then descended through Dunton Green and up the valley of the River Darent to Sevenoaks; through the town centre and then down into the Medway valley via Hildenborough to Tonbridge. The London Road at the north of the town is now the B245; it continued through the long High Street, over the many bridges of the river (during which time it was also part of the A26 from Maidstone ). As the road began to climb out of the valley it took a left fork; shortly after this the route of the modern A21 is rejoined.

Knockholt to Castle Hill[edit]

The Lamberhurst Bypass
A21 near Robertsbridge

Where the new A21 begins, and also where the A224 joins from the north, the road is called the Sevenoaks Road; at Knockholt (Hewitts Roundabout), the road enters Kent near its junction with a spur from the M25 motorway. The A21 actually multiplexes with the M25 and descends the North Downs Scarp here. The M25 then has to use a slip road in the left lane and the A21 takes priority although is still technically a motorway until the junction with the A25 to Sevenoaks and the M26. The oddness of Junction 5 is due to the M26 once being part of the M25. Before the M25 was built, the A21 was the modern A224 near Polhill and then became the dual carriageway Sevenoaks bypass.

This section of the road is a grade separated 2-lane dual carriageway (aside from a 3-lane section northbound climbing Riverhill). The road passes to the west of the town, running through a nearby valley until it meets the A225 and B245 at a Roundabout Interchange near Sevenoaks Weald. The next section bypasses the original route of the A21 along the B245 through Hildenborough, Tonbridge High Street, and Pembury Road to join the current route near the second A26 junction. Between Leigh and Haysden the road crosses the Medway Valley by the means of a two-span lengthy viaduct which crosses the River Medway and passes Haysden Water.

Around this point, the road enters the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The A21 then meets the two junctions with the A26, providing access to Tonbridge and Southborough.

A short distance south of the second A26 junction, the A21 narrows down to a single carriageway for 1.7 miles (2.7 km) between Castle Hill and Longfield Road Junction, which has, for a long time, been a major traffic blackspot.[11] There have been many proposals to upgrade this section to a dual carriageway standard, however it has been delayed multiple times. The most recent scheme to upgrade the Castle Hill section was proposed by the Highways Agency underwent public enquiry in 2013.[12]

Castle Hill to Lamberhurst[edit]

The dual carriageway resumes after the Castle Hill bottleneck at Longfield Road Junction, the first roundabout since leaving the M25. The next junction is with the A264 road to Tunbridge Wells and the A228 to Maidstone. This section is known as the Pembury Bypass, bypassing the old route through the village. The road later joins the original alignment at an at-grade junction (leaving a brief gap in the central reservation) not long before it meets a double roundabout at Kippings Cross where another section of single carriageway starts. The next section of A21 is another major bottleneck, being a single carriageway with frequent bends. In October 2005 the "Preferred Route" to upgrade this 3 miles (4.8 km) section was announced.[13] However, the scheme has since been suspended.[14]

Lamberhurst to John's Cross[edit]

Sedlescombe Road North, Hastings

After a junction with the A262, the road returns to a dual carriageway standard along the 2-mile (3.2 km) Lamberhurst bypass where the A21 skirts to the east of the village on a road through various farms until eventually it gets to Scotney Castle where the dual carriageway ends at a roundabout.

The next section of road is a single carriageway which travels past Bewl Water and Kilndown until it once again becomes a dual carriageway for 1.2 miles (1.9 km). This, however has recently been reduced to one lane in each direction to reduce speeding. As the dual Carriageway ends, the road enters East Sussex and meets the A268, taking traffic to/from Rye. The A21 then travels through numerous conjoined villages including Hurst Green where it meets the A265 from Heathfield. After a hill descent, the road reaches a roundabout where the Robertsbridge bypass begins, taking traffic away from the main street in the village. This is built to a single carriageway standard. The road then regains the original route before meeting a roundabout in the hamlet of Johns Cross.

Mountfield to Hastings[edit]

At Johns Cross the original A21 followed the present day A2100 road passing Mountfield and heading through Battle and approaching Silverhill via Hollington. The present route uses the original B2091, A229 and A28 which takes the present route to the east on a relatively straight, though undulating, journey, through Whatlington and bypassing Sedlescombe before climbing a four-mile (6.4 km) long hill to enter Hastings where the first junction reached is the Baldslow Interchange where currently the A28, A2100 and B2093 roads all terminate. The A21 then heads through northern Hastings where the road is known as Sedlescombe road North with access to sub-urban streets until eventually it meets the A2101 which heads for the Town Centre. The A21 then enters Silverhill where it gets to a junction which is sometimes a major bottleneck. Afterwards the A2102 heads for St Leonards and the A21 becomes the high street of Bohemia where the road is narrow. The route then heads down with access to various emergency services and then enters the town centre. From here the original A21 cut through the town centre to meet the A259 at a roundabout near Pelham Crescent however since the town centre has been pedestrianised the A21 heads down on the sub-urban streets to the east. The next section of the A21 heads around partly on a one-way system near the railway station and the new Priory Quarter business development. From here, the southbound stretch of A21 is reserved for buses only and terminates on the A259.

Safety[edit]

In 2002, it was reported that a 22 kilometres (14 mi) section of the A21 south of Flimwell was the most dangerous road in the south east outside London, and the 38th most dangerous in the country,[15] however it has since been overtaken by the A259 between Pevensey and Bexhill-on-Sea.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

Proposed Improvements[edit]

Large portions of the A21, through Kent mostly, are dual carriageway with intervening stretches of single carriageway. There have long been plans are to upgrade some of the remaining stretches of single carriageway to alleviate congestion, safety and accessibility problems in the villages along the route.[1][3][23]

Castle Hill[edit]

A21 at Castle Hill

Plans to upgrade the section of single carriageway road at Castle Hill to a dual Carriageway have been repeatedly delayed for the since the late 1980s.[24][25] This section will be a two-lane dual carriageway with, possibly, a southbound climbing lane.[1][4][5] There will also be a Flyover/Improvement at Longfield road roundabout, giving access to the new regional hospital at Pembury[1][3] and the existing retail park, as well as another unclassified road being Grade Separated at Fairthorne.[4][26] Segregated access roads will be provided to give access to the existing properties along this section of the A21, with the provision of a separate footpath/cycle way throughout the length of the scheme.[4] The Bypass was originally set to cost £64 million.[27] An original plan, approved in 1993, was to re-align the road to the west and bring it up to a six lane (3 in each direction) standard but this scheme was cancelled in 1997 following the General Election.[1][28] Construction was expected to start in 2010,[3][4] however it repeatedly faced delay.[29][30][31] A two-day exhibition was held at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge on 15 and 16 January 2010[32] and a public consultation on the plans ended on 5 March 2010.[33] A public inquiry was due to go ahead in the summer of 2010 but was postponed. Following the spending review, the scheme was deferred until the next review period, beginning in 2015.[12][34] In 2011, Kent County Council offered to take control of the project, claiming that they could get the scheme built at a reduced cost of £70 million.[35][36][37][38][39] In 2012 it was announced that the scheme was to go to public enquiry,[40][41][42] which started on 14 May 2013.[43] £92million of government money was made available to the scheme in July 2013.[44] The stretch of road carries between 40,000 and 50,000 vehicles a day.[24][28][45]

Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst[edit]

When the Pembury bypass ends at Kippings Cross, the next section of A21 is a low quality single carriageway road with several steep gradients across the Weald. There are few major centres of habitation on the road and limited or no footpaths. There are many houses next to the route and the road has very frequent bends. The Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst section has a high accident rate and congestion occurs particularly at peak times.[46]

It is proposed that this section should be turned into a two-lane dual carriageway with footpaths and is proposed to be completely off-line, although mainly following the existing route, and have improvements to the A262 roundabout.[47] The Bypass is said to cost £40 million.[48]

This scheme has since been suspended following the 2010 spending review.[14]

Flimwell to Robertsbridge[edit]

Plans have been published for a new road between the southern end of the Flimwell bypass and the beginning of the Robertsbridge bypass. The 5.5-mile (8.9 km) improvement will bypass the villages of Flimwell, Hurst Green and Silver Hill.[49] The improvement will commence at the B2079 junction (Lady Oak Lane) on the short section of existing dual carriageway north of Flimwell and terminate at the roundabout at the northern end of the Robertsbridge Bypass. Although part of the road will be brought up to a dual carriageway standard, parts will become a 'wide single carriageway'.[50][51] This scheme has been postponed until 2015 at the earliest and currently route protection is being lifted.[citation needed]

Baldslow Interchange[edit]

When the Hastings-Bexhill Link Road is complete, more traffic will use the already congested road from the A2100/A28 to the A21 at Baldslow Interchange, Hastings. There are plans to build a short link road to the A21 south of the interchange and bring more of the A21, from there up past to a new roundabout in an area north of the interchange, to dual carriageway standard. Another option is to realign the A2100 north of the junction, but this option is less favourable due to environmental concerns.[52][53]

Other Improvements[edit]

Schemes to upgrade the following sections have also been proposed:[54]

Lamberhurst to Flimwell
Robertsbridge to Baldslow


Junctions[edit]

A21 Road[55]
Southbound exits Junction Northbound exits
Start of Dual Carriageway End of Dual Carriageway
Local Road
Start/End of Road
Foots Cray
Non Motorway Traffic
Riverhead A224
Foots Cray
Non Motorway Traffic
Riverhead A224
Kent
Dartford Crossing
Maidstone (M20)
Stansted Airport (M11)
Watford (M1) M25 (Anticlockwise)
Dartford Crossing
Maidstone (M20)
Stansted Airport (M11)
Watford (M1) M25 (Anticlockwise)
Gatwick Airport (M23)
Basingstoke (M3)
Heathrow Airport (M4)
Reigate M25 (Clockwise)
Gatwick Airport (M23)
Basingstoke (M3)
Heathrow Airport (M4)
Reigate M25 (Clockwise)
"No exit to or (westbound) access from M26"
Brasted
Westerham
Oxted A25
Riverhead
Sevenoaks
Borough Green
Maidstone A25
Brasted
Westerham
Oxted A25
Riverhead
Sevenoaks
Borough Green
Maidstone A25
Sevenoaks A225
Hildenborough B245
S'oaks Weald
Sevenoaks A225
Hildenborough B245
S'oaks Weald
Southborough
Tun. Wells A26
Southborough
Tun. Wells, A26
Tonbridge A2014
A26
Tonbridge A2014'
A26
Local Access N/A
Pembury Hospital
Southborough
Tunbridge Wells (North)
North Farm Ind Est.
Southborough
Tunbridge Wells (North)
North Farm Ind Est.
Tunbridge Wells
East Grinstead
Gatwick Airport
A264
Pembury
Paddock Wood
Maidstone A228
Tunbridge Wells
East Grinstead
Crawley
A264
Paddock Wood A228
Pembury Pembury (via gap in central reservation)
Frant
Kippings Cross B2160
Frant
Kippings Cross B2160
Tunbridge Wells Services
Brenchley N/A
Hook Green Hook Green
Goudhurst
Cranbrook
Ashford A262
Lamberhurst
Horsmonden B2162
Goudhurst
Maidstone (A229) A262
Lamberhurst
Horsmonden B2162
Hook Green B2169
Frant (B2100)
Hook Green B2169
Frant (B2100)
Bewl Water Bewl Water
Kilndown Kilndown
Bedgebury Bedgebury (via gap in central reserve)
East Sussex
Hawkhurst
Rye A268
Hawkhurst
Rye A268
Ticehurst
Wadhurst B2099
Ticehurst
Wadhurst B2099
Maidstone A229 Maidstone A229
Heathfield
Uckfield A265
Heathfield
Uckfield A265
Bodiam
Staplecross
Bodiam
Staplecross
Salehurst
Leehurst
Salehurst
Leehust
Robertsbridge Robertsbridge
Mountfield
Battle A2100
Bexhill
Hailsham (A271)
Mountfield
Battle
Bexhill A2100
Cripps Corner
Staple Cross
Rye B2089
Cripps Corner B2089
Whatlington
Battle
Whatlington
Battle
Rotherfords Ind Est
Battle
Rotherfords Ind Est
Battle
Sedlescombe Sedlescombe
Bulverhythe
Battle A2100
Ore A2100
Ashford
Margate A28
Bulerhythe A2100
Ore A2100
Ashford
Margate
Ramsgate A28

See also[edit]

Great Britain road numbering scheme

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Access to Hastings – Consultation Report – Appendices". Hastings Online. September 2000. Archived from the original on 21 June 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "BBC NEWS | England | Police seek safe May Day bike run". London: BBC News. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Highways Agency – A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling". Highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  4. ^ a b "BBC article on improvements". BBC News. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Note on turnpike: Sussex Industrial Archaeological Study Group". Chiddingly.gov.uk. 1 April 1968. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Horam, John (12 January 1977). "A21 (Improvements)". Hansard. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Bottomley, Peter (22 April 1988). "A21 (Pembury Bypass)". Hansard. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Lamberhurst Bypass Information". Highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Bypass Opening – Highways Agency" (PDF). Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  10. ^ March 2005a.239.0&s=speaker%3A10404 "Parliamentary speech 2005". Theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Highways Agency – A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling". Highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  12. ^ "A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst Improvement". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Cancelled Schemes". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "ROADS NAMED AND SHAMED IN REPORT". Hastings Observer (Johnston Publishing Ltd.). 19 February 2002. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  15. ^ "Highest risk road sections in each UK Government Office Region (2004–2006)" (PDF). Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  16. ^ The most dangerous road in Sussex is named
  17. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (30 June 2008). "Revealed: Britain's most dangerous road | Mail Online". The Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  18. ^ "Britain's most dangerous roads by region – Autotrader UK". Autotrader.co.uk. 30 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "Britain's Most Dangerous Roads". Itv.com. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Two die and two seriously injured in crash (From The Argus)". Theargus.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "Britain's most dangerous road revealed". 24dash.com. 30 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  22. ^ "A21 South Pembury to Hastings Route Improvements – Highways Agency". Highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "Friday 16 May 2008". Kent County Council. 16 May 2008. Archived from the original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  24. ^ "Delay in road widening criticised". London: BBC News. 24 March 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  25. ^ "Microsoft Word - A21 Tonbridge to Pembury AST Version 05.2 ISSUE VERSION _24 August 07_.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  26. ^ "A21 Tonbridge Bypass to Pembury Dualling] – Factsheet 39". Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "Why We Need The Scheme". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. 
  28. ^ "Vital road improvements given green light – Hastings Today". Hastingsobserver.co.uk. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Scotsman". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  30. ^ "A21 dualling update". thisiskent.co.uk. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  31. ^ Public Exhibition Highways Agency
  32. ^ "Widening plans for A21 unveiled". London: British Broadcasting Corporation. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2010. 
  33. ^ "Spending Review". Highways Agency. 
  34. ^ "Kent County Council bid to widen A21 'at half the cost'". BBC News. 24 March 2011. 
  35. ^ "Kent and Sussex councils offer to pay for A21 inquiry". BBC News. 28 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "Councils offer to fund inquiry on A21 dualling". This Is Kent. 
  37. ^ "Courier says: We need the A21 dualled, Prime Minister!". This Is Kent. 
  38. ^ "A21 dualling best value scheme in UK says rac report". [kentnews.co.uk]. 
  39. ^ "Kent A21 widening scheme 'could create growth'". BBC News. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  40. ^ "At last – Government is pledging action on A21". This Is Kent. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  41. ^ "Q&A: Your A21 queries answered". This Is Kent. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  42. ^ "A21 Tonbridge to Pembury: Public Inquiry date set". Highways Agency. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  43. ^ "Green light for £92m funds for A21 widening". Rye & Battle Observer. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  44. ^ Marston, Paul (28 December 2002). "Death trap road scheme hit by Labour U-turn". The Daily Telegraph (UK). p. 1. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  45. ^ "Highways Agency – Kipping's Cross – Lamberhurst (original)". Highways Agency. Archived from the original on 2 August 2010. 
  46. ^ "Economy: Economic Efficiency of the Transport System (TEE)" (PDF). Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  47. ^ SE fact sheet scheme for Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst scheme
  48. ^ "Bypasses for A21 villages unveiled". BBC News. 17 February 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  49. ^ "Hastings Online – Meeting Report – CABINET (03-02-03) – A 21 Improvement Proposals". Hastings Online. 3 February 2003. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  50. ^ "Preferred Route Announcement". Highways Agency. February 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  51. ^ "Baldslow-Queensway Link Road Options". Uk-roads.co.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  52. ^ "A21 Baldslow Junction Improvements" (PDF). South East England Regional Transport Board. 
  53. ^ "A21 Improvements move a step closer". Highways Agency. 22 February 2005. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. 
  54. ^ Lawley, Nicholas. "Route Guides – A21". Road to Nowhere. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 

External links[edit]