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

The A21 is a major trunk road in Southern England and is one of the many connecting Londonmarker and various commuter towns to the south coast. It provides a link to Hastingsmarker, East Sussexmarker and parts of Kentmarker. 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.People have described the A21 as "A Joke" and businesspeople` were reported to “hate coming downthe A21”.The Highways Agency has plans to dual more of the A21.Parts of the A21 follow the turnpike road: one being the section from Sevenoaksmarker to Tunbridge Wellsmarker, opened in 1710; other sections of the road were similarly dealt with later in the century.The road between the M25marker and Hastings is designated a trunk road, and is maintained and managed by the Highways Agency.

The A21 is used for the Maydayrun to Hastingsmarker in which motorcyclists ride from South Londonmarker to the Hastings seafront. It claims to be the largest non-organised event in the UK, attracting over 20,000 bikers.

Overall view of the road



The A21 begins in Lewishammarker, almost southeast of the centre of London. Passing through Catfordmarker, Bromleymarker and Farnboroughmarker, twenty miles (32 km) from the start of the journey, it reaches the Kent border and the open countryside. Shortly afterwards the first of the bypass is reached, that avoiding Sevenoaksmarker, Tonbridgemarker and Tunbridge Wellsmarker. The second bypass takes the road around Lamberhurstmarker, avoiding a river valley, after which the terrain becomes more difficult 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.The most recent bypass is the two mile (3 km) Lamberhurst bypass and a short dual carriageway immediately before the crossroads at Flimwell gives little redress, for the second lane in both directions has been permanently coned off, although may re-open if it is extended. Near the end of this dual carriageway the road enters East Sussex. Another bypass takes the road around the narrow road through Salehurstmarker and Robertsbridgemarker. Immediately before Hastings outskirts is the final hill, almost four miles (6.4 km) in length.



The route in detail

London

The A21 starts in Lewishammarker in Londonmarker at a roundabout on the A20 known as "Loampit Vale Junction". From there the road uses various roads in Catfordmarker, where the A205 (the South Circular Road) crosses the A21; it runs south east up Bromley Hill to enter the London Borough of Bromleymarker, 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 Commonmarker, 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 Greenmarker it turns eastwards towards the valley of the River Darentmarker, and it is at this point that the road pattern makes a complete change from its original route.

The A21 originally entered Kent here and climbed to the scarp of the North Downsmarker at Polhill, and then descended through Dunton Greenmarker and up the valley of the River Darentmarker to Sevenoaksmarker; through the town centre and then down into the Medway valley via Hildenboroughmarker 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 Maidstonemarker ). 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 Knockholtmarker (Hewitts Roundabout), the road enters Kentmarker near its junction with a spur from the M25 motorwaymarker. 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 Sevenoaksmarker 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

South of the junction with the A25, the road becomes the 1966 built Sevenoaks bypass which generally has two lanes in each direction. The Sevenoaks bypass runs down around nearby valleys and at one point includes the widest part of the A21 with three lanes climbing Riverhill northbound from the junction near the village of Sevenoaks Weald. The road is then the Tonbridgemarker Bypass. This section bypasses the original route of the A21 along the B245 through Hildenboroughmarker, Tonbridge High Street, and Pembury Road to join the current route near the second A26 junction.The section has not very many junctions and runs partly through the High Wealdmarker Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.Between Leighmarker 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.

The A21 then curves round the area until eventually reaching two junctions with the A26 through Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wellsmarker.

South of here the A21 remains dualled until becoming a single-carriageway between Castle Hill and Pemburymarker, which has had a long history of delays, causing a major bottleneck which is still not resolved as of 2008.

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 Pemburymarker. The dual carriageway has more bends than before and has fewer bridges. The road comes to a grade separated junction with the A264 road to Tunbridge Wellsmarker and the A228 to Maidstonemarker. 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 section was announced.

Lamberhurst to John's Cross

However, some work has been completed. One of these, the £18 million Lamberhurstmarker bypass, was opened on 23 March 2005. 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 Castlemarker. The scheme was constructed by May Gurney who planted 50,000 trees on the new road. On the current bypass, the A21 skirts to the east 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 Watermarker until it becomes the Flimwellmarker bypass. This has recently been reduced to one lane in each direction to reduce speeding.As the Dual Carriageway ends, the road enters East Sussexmarker.The road afterwards near Salehurstmarker, where the 1989 Robertsbridgemarker bypass begins, taking traffic away from the narrow main street in the village.Unlike the bypasses north of here, this is built to a Single-Carriageway standard.

Mountfield to Hastings

At Johns Cross the original A21 followed the present day A2100 road through Mountfield, Battlemarker and across the north of Hastings around Hollingtonmarker and ended at the Baldslow Interchange where the A28 made for the town centre. 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, bypassing Sedlescombemarker before climbing a four-mile (6.4 km) long hill to enter Hastingsmarker where 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 wide single-carriageway bypass of Baldslow (Sedlescombe road north) along with access to sub-urban streets until eventually it meets the A2101 which heads for the Town Centre. The A21 then enters Silverhillmarker 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 where the road is quite narrow and there are often roadworks. 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 stationmarker 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

In 2002 , it was reported that a 22 kilometres (14 mi) section of the A21 south of Flimwellmarker was the most dangerous road in the south east outside Londonmarker, and the 38th most dangerous in the country, however it has since been overtaken by the A259 between Pevenseymarker and Bexhill-on-Seamarker.

Proposed Improvements

Large portions of the A21, through Kent mostly, are dual carriageway with intervening stretches of single carriageway.The current plans are to dual the rest of the road through Kent to alleviate congestion, safety and accessibility problems in the villages along the route. There are also proposals to dual all of the remaining stretches of Single carriageway which may cause the lane on the short dualled section through the Kent/East Sussex border to reopen.

Castle Hill to Pembury

A21 near Whitly Row.
A21 heading Southbound near Sundridge.
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.There will also be a Flyover/Improvement at Longfield road roundabout, giving access to a proposed new regional hospital at Pemburymarker and the existing retail park, as well as another unclassified road being Grade Separated at Fairthorne.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. The Bypass will cost £64 million.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.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.The dualling has been repeatedly delayed for the past 20 years.The stretch of road carries over 50,000 vehicles a day.

Kippings Cross to Forstal Farm

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 Wealdmarker. There are few major centres of habitation on the roadand 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.

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.The Bypass is said to cost £40 million.

Flimwell to Northbridge street

Plans have been published for a new road between the southern end of the Flimwell bypass and the beginning of the Robertsbridgemarker bypass. The 5.5 mile (8.9 km) improvement will bypass the villages of Flimwell, Hurst Green and Silver Hill. 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'

Baldsow Interchange

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.

Other Improvements

These schemes have also been proposed:

Flimwell to Scotney Castle

Robertsbridge to Baldslow

Landmarks

Italic indicates that the landmark is only near or not seenfrom the route



Junctions

A21 Road
Southbound exits Junction Northbound exits
Start of Dual Carriageway End of Dual Carriageway
Local Road

Start/End of Road
Foots Craymarker

Non Motorway Traffic

Riverhead A224
Foots Craymarker

Non Motorway Traffic

Riverhead A224
Kent
Dartford Crossingmarker

Maidstonemarker (M20)

Stansted Airportmarker (M11)

Watfordmarker (M1) M25marker (Anticlockwise)
Dartford Crossingmarker

Maidstonemarker (M20)

Stansted Airportmarker (M11)

Watfordmarker (M1) M25marker (Anticlockwise)
Gatwick Airport (M23)

Basingstokemarker (M3)

Heathrow Airportmarker (M4)

Reigatemarker M25 (Clockwise)
Gatwick Airport (M23)

Basingstokemarker (M3)

Heathrow Airportmarker (M4)

Reigatemarker M25 (Clockwise)
"No exit to or (westbound) access from M26"
Brastedmarker

Westerhammarker

Oxtedmarker A25

Riverhead

Sevenoaksmarker

Borough Greenmarker

Maidstonemarker A25
Brastedmarker

Westerhammarker

Oxtedmarker A25

Riverhead

Sevenoaksmarker

Borough Greenmarker

Maidstonemarker A25
Sevenoaksmarker A225

Hildenboroughmarker B245

S'oaks Wealdmarker
Sevenoaksmarker A225

Hildenboroughmarker B245

S'oaks Wealdmarker
Southboroughmarker

Tun.marker
Wellsmarker A26
Southborough

Tun. Wells, A26
Tonbridgemarker A2014

A26
Tonbridge A2014'

A26
Local Access N/A
Pembury Hospital

Southboroughmarker

Tunbridge Wellsmarker (North)

North Farm Ind Est.

Southborough, Kent>Southborough

Tunbridge Wells (North)

North Farm Ind Est.
Tunbridge Wellsmarker

East Grinsteadmarker

Gatwick Airport

A264

Pemburymarker

Paddock Woodmarker

Maidstonemarker A228
Tunbridge Wells

East Grinstead

Crawley

A264

Paddock Wood A228
Pembury Pembury (via gap in central reservation)
Frantmarker

Kippings Cross B2160
Frant

Kippings Cross B2160
Tunbridge Wells Services
Brenchley N/A
Hook Green Hook Green
Goudhurstmarker

Cranbrookmarker

Ashfordmarker A262

Lamberhurstmarker

Horsmonden B2162
Goudhurst

Maidstone (A229) A262

Lamberhurst

Horsmonden B2162
Hook Green B2169

Frant (B2100)
Hook Green B2169

Frant (B2100)
Bewl Watermarker Bewl Watermarker
Kilndownmarker Kilndownmarker
Bedgebury Bedgebury (via gap in central reserve)
East Sussex
Hawkhurstmarker

Ryemarker A268
Hawkhurstmarker

Ryemarker A268
Ticehurstmarker

Wadhurstmarker B2099
Ticehurst

Wadhurst B2099
Maidstonemarker A229 Maidstone A229
Heathfieldmarker

Uckfieldmarker A265
Heathfield

Uckfield A265
Bodiammarker

Staplecross
Bodiammarker

Staplecross
Salehurstmarker

Leehurst
Salehurst

Leehust
Robertsbridgemarker Robertsbridge
Mountfieldmarker

Battlemarker A2100

Bexhillmarker

Hailshammarker (A271)
Mountfield

Battle

Bexhill A2100
Cripps Corner

Staple Cross

Rye B2089
Cripps Corner B2089
Whatlingtonmarker

Battle
Whatlingtonmarker

Battle
Rotherfords Ind Est

Battle
Rotherfords Ind Est

Battle
Sedlescombemarker Sedlescombemarker
Bulverhythe

Battle A2100

Oremarker a2100

Ashfordmarker

Margatemarker A28
Bulerhythe A2100

Ore A2100

Ashford

Margate

Ramsgate A28


See also

Great Britain road numbering scheme

References

  1. Access to Hastings - Consultation Report - Multi-Modal Study - September 2000
  2. BBC article on improvements
  3. Note on turnpike: Sussex Industrial Archaeological Study Group
  4. Image from Wikimedia Commons
  5. Parliamentary speech 2005
  6. Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst road improvements.
  7. Lamberhurst Bypass Information
  8. Bypass Opening - Highways Agency
  9. ROADS NAMED AND SHAMED IN REPORT - Hastings Today - Back to Home Page, 19 February 2002. Retrieved on 25 September 2008
  10. Highest risk road sections in each UK Government Office Region (2004-2006)
  11. The most dangerous road in Sussex is named
  12. Britain's most dangerous roads by region - Autotrader UK
  13. Britain's Most Dangerous Roads
  14. Britain's most dangerous road revealed - 24dash.com
  15. A21 South Pembury to Hastings Route Improvements - Highways Agency
  16. A21 Tonbridge Bypass to Pembury Dualling - Factsheet 39 (PDF)
  17. Objections to a new section of Dual 3 lane A21 Trunk Road between Pembury and Tonbridge Government's previous code name - The Weald and Downland DBFO Project
  18. MAIN CASE AGAINST
  19. Vital road improvements given green light - Hastings Today
  20. Tonbridge to Pembury A21 work moved forward - This Is Kent
  21. Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst - Highways Agency
  22. SE fact sheet scheme for Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst scheme
  23. Bypasses for A21 villages unveiled - BBC News
  24. Baldslow-Queensway Link Road Options


External links




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