- A21 road
UK road routebox
caption= A21 at
direction= Northwest - Southeast
Royal Tunbridge Wells
The A21 is a major
trunk roadin Southern Englandconnecting Londonwith Hastings, East Sussex. 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 over the more rural stretches; and during the summer with holiday traffic. Once clear of London, the by-passes which exist along the road mean that there are few major settlements directly on the route.The road is frequently congested due to roundabouts and stretches of single carriageway. The Highways Agency has plans to dual more of the A21.
Parts of the A21 follow the turnpike roads: one being the section from
Sevenoaksto Tunbridge Wells, opened in 1710; [ [http://www.chiddingly.gov.uk/History/The%20Bow%20Bells%20Milestones.html Note on turnpike: Sussex Industrial Archaeological Study Group] ] other sections of the road were similarly dealt with later in the century.The Hastings Observer reported a 22 kilometers (14 mi) section of the A21 south of Flimwellas being the most dangerous road in the south east outside London, and the 38th most dangerous in the country, [ [http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/newshastings/ROADS-NAMED-AND-SHAMED-IN.258259.jp ROADS NAMED AND SHAMED IN REPORT - Hastings Today - Back to Home Page] , 19 February 2002. Retrieved on 25 September 2008] although some websites state it as being the A259 between Pevenseyand Bexhill-on-Sea. [ [http://www.eurorap.org/library/pdfs/20080627_GB_High_RISK_Regional.pdf Highest risk road sections in each UK Government Office Region (2004-2006)] ]
The A21 is used for the 55-mile
Maydayrunto Hastingsin which motor cyclers race from South Londonto the Hastings seafront. It claims to be the largest non-organised event in the UK, [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7383169.stm |title=BBC NEWS England Police seek safe May Day bike run |publisher=News.bbc.co.uk |date=Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 17:47 UK |accessdate=2008-10-09] attracting over 20,000 bikers.
The road between the M25 and Hastings is designated a
trunk road, and is maintained and managed by the Highways Agency.
People have described the A21 as "A Joke" and Business people were reported to “hate coming downthe A21” [ [http://www.hastings.gov.uk/access_hastings/a2hfinalreport_appx.pdf Access to Hastings - Consultation Report - Multi-Modal Study - September 2000] ] .
Overall view of the road
The A21 begins in Lewisham, almost four miles (6.3 mi) southeast of the centre of London. Passing through
Catford, Bromleyand Farnborough, twenty miles (32km) from the start of the journey, it reaches the Kent border and the open countryside. Shortly afterwards the first of the bypasses is reached, that avoiding Sevenoaks, Tonbridgeand Tunbridge Wells. The second bypass takes the road around Lamberhurst, avoiding a river valley, after which the terrain becomes more difficult: we are on the Weald, for the remainder of the journey. The steep hills and long bends typical of the region contribute to the slow-moving traffic at busy periods.
A short dual carriageway immediately before the crossroads at Flimwell gives little redress, for the 2nd lane in both directions has been permanently coned off, although may re-open if it is extended. Near the end of this dual cariageway the road enters East Sussex. At the The most recent bypass takes the road around the narrow road through
Salehurstand Robertsbridge. Immediately before Hastings outskirts is the final hill, almost four miles (6.4km) in length.
The route in detail
London(Parliament Square), after negotiating the roads immediately south of the River Thames, uses the A20 road; it enters the A21 proper in Lewisham("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 town, the High Street is now the B2158. Until now the road has been in a south-easterly direction, but after Green Street Greenit 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.
The A21 originally climbed to the scarp of the
North Downsat Polhill, and then descended through Dunton Greenand up the valley of the River Darentto Sevenoaks; through the town centre and then down into the Medway valley via Hildenboroughto 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
Badgers Mt. to Pembury
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 Kentnear 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 Sevenoaksand the M26. The oddness of Junction 5 is due to the M26 once being part of the M25.
South of the junction with the A25, the road enters the longest dual carriageway section along its length, the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge bypasses, which generally have two lanes in each direction. The Sevenoaks bypass runs between the A25 junction, north of Sevenoaks and the A225 junction, between Sevenoaks and
Hildenborough, and include the widest part of the A21 with three lanes climbing the hill northbound from the A225 junction. Between the A225 and A26 junctions, the road is known as the Tonbridge Bypass. This 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.The section crosses a few valleys and the River Medwayand includes a few bends.
South of here the A21 remains dualled all the way until Kippings Cross, with the exception of a 1.7 mile (2.7km) single-carriageway section at "Castle Hill" which has had a long history of delays, causing a bottleneck which is still not resolved as of 2008. [ [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2005-03-01a.239.0&s=speaker%3A10404 Parliamentary speech 2005] ]
Pembury to Lamberhurst
The dual carriageway resumes after the Castle Hill bottleneck at the first roundabout since leaving the M25; this section was built to bypass
Pembury. The dual carriageway has more bends than before and has less bridges. The road comes to a grade separated junction with the A264 roadto Tunbridge Wellsand the A228 to Maidstone. There is also a local turning later on into Pembury. From here the road is generally more straight than normal and travels uphill and then level. Later on the dual carriageway ends at a roundabout. The next section of A21 is another major bottleneck, being a single carriageway with frequent bends however in October 2005 the "Preferred Route" to deal with this 3 mile (4.75km) section was announced. [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/5701.aspx Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst road improvements] .]
Goudhurst to Robertsbridge
However, some work has been completed. One of these, the 2 mile £18 million
Lamberhurstbypass, was opened on 23 March 2005. Here the road had steep inclines into the village and the valley of the River Bewl. Included in the scheme is a land bridgeat Scotney Castle. [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/a_roads/a21/lamberhurst_bypass/ Lamberhurst Bypass Information] ] The scheme was also constructed by May Gurneyand 50,000 trees are planted on the new road. [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/documents/49_bypass_opening05.pdf Bypass Opening - Highways Agency] ] On the current bypass the A21 skirts to the east on a road through farms until eventually it gets to scotney castle where the dual carriageway stops at a roundabout.
Bewl Waterand the Bedgebury Forestflank the road before the two-mile (3km) " Flimwellbypass". This has recently been reduced to one lane in each direction to reduce speeding. The second of the major works begins at Salehurst, where the Robertsbridgebypass begins, taking traffic away from the narrow main street in the village. It opened in 1992.
Mountfield to Hastings
At Johns Cross the original A21 followed the present day
A2100 roadthrough Mountfield, Battle and across the north of Hastings around Hollingtonand ended at the Baldslow Interchange where the A28 made for the town centre. The present route uses the original A229 and A28 which takes the present route to the east on a relatively straight, though undulating, journey, bypassing Sedlescombebefore climbing a four-mile (6.4km) long hill to enter Hastingswhere the first junction reached is the Baldslow Interchange where currently the A28, A2100 and B2093 roads all terminate. The A21 then heads through on a single-carriageway bypass of Baldslow along with access to sub-urban streets until eventually the A2101 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 for Bohemia. 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, since the town centre has been pedestrianisedthe A21 heads down on the sub-urban streets to the east. The remainder of the A21 heads around partly on a one-way system near the Priory Quarter business development and then meets the A2101 road again.
Large portions of the A21 through Kent are dual carriageway with intervening stretches of single carriageway.The current plans are to dual the rest of the road through Kent and there are also plans to improve sections throughEast Sussex which may cause the lane on the short dualled section through the Kent/East Sussex border to reopen.
Castle Hill to Pembury
The Highways Agency has proposed dualling of the short single carriageway aroundCastle Hill which is one of the most congested sections of the road.This section will be a two-lane dual carriageway with, possibly, a third lane up the hill. [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/4003.aspx |title=Highways Agency - A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling |publisher=Highways.gov.uk |date= |accessdate=2008-10-09] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7293666.stm Bbc article on improvements] ] There were plans for an offine bypass with six lanes (three in each direction). There will also be a
Flyover/Improvement at Longfield road roundabout, giving access to a proposed new regional hospital at Pembury, as well as another unclassified road being Grade Separated. [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/documents/A21_Tonbridge_to_Pembury_AST.pdf |title=Microsoft Word - A21 Tonbridge to Pembury AST Version 05.2 ISSUE VERSION _24 August 07_.doc |date= |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-10-09] The Bypass will cost £64 million. [ [http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/documents/factsheet/39.pdf A21 Tonbridge Bypass to Pembury Dualling] - Factsheet 39 (PDF)] An original plan was to re-align the road to the west and bring it up to a six lane (3 in each direction) standard but was put off due to environmental concerns. [ [http://www.btinternet.com/~andrew.h.lohmann/home_a21.htm Objections] ] [ [http://www.hastings.gov.uk/access_hastings/a2hfinalreport.pdf Access to Hastings Multi-Model study] ] Construction was expected to start in 2010 and then was delayed to 2012 but the scheme has recently moved to a higher priority and construction is now expected to start in 2011 or sooner. [ [http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/newshastings/Vital-road-improvements-given-green.4509626.jp Vital road improvements given green light - Hastings Today] ] [ [http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latest-south-east-news/A21-upgrading-work-brought-forward.4518364.jp] ]
Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst
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 roadand limited or no footpaths.There are many houses next to the route an the road has very frequent bends.The Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst section has a high accident rate and congestion occurs particularly at peak times. [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/5701.aspx Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst - Highways Agency]
It is proposed that this section should be turned into a two-lane dual carriageway with footpathsand is proposed to be completely off-line, although mainly following the existing route, and haveimprovements to the A262 roundabout. [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/documents/A21_Kippings_Cross_AST.pdf |title=Economy: Economic Efficiency of the Transport System (TEE) |date= |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-10-09] The Bypass is said to cost £40 million. [ [http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/documents/factsheet/40.pdf SE fact sheet scheme for Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst scheme] ]
Flimwell to Salehurst
Plans have been published for a new road between the southern end of the Flimwell bypass and the beginning of the
Robertsbridgebypass.The 5.5 mile (8.9km) improvement will bypass the villages of Flimwell, Hurst Green and Silver Hill. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4275369.stm Bypasses for A21 villages unveiled - BBC News] ] 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' [cite web|url=http://www.hastings.gov.uk/meetings/meetings_docs/030203~cabinet~report06~A_21_Improvement_Proposals.htm |title=Hastings Online - Meeting Report - CABINET (03-02-03) - A 21 Improvement Proposals |publisher=Hastings.gov.uk |date= |accessdate=2008-10-09] . [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/4021.aspx |title=Highways Agency - Preferred Route Announcement |publisher=Highways.gov.uk |date= |accessdate=2008-10-09]
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 carriagewaystandard.Another option is to realign the A2100 north of the junction, but this option is less favourable due to environmental concerns. [ [http://www.uk-roads.co.uk/gallery/albums/userpics/10259/A21BaldslowJunction.pdf Baldslow-Queensway Link Road Options] ] [ [http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/documents/factsheet/30.pdf Baldslow Interchange] ]
These schemes have also been proposed: [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/news/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=435 A21 Improvements move a step closer] ]
"Flimwell to Scotney Castle"
"Robertsbridge to Baldslow"
"Italic" indicates that the landmark is only near or not seenfrom the route
Great Britain road numbering scheme
* [http://www.uk-roads.co.uk/roadlists/f99/21.shtml UK Roads Portal A21 information]
* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/badjunctions/21-25-26.shtml CBRD M25 J5]
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