Wheatsheaf junction

The Wheatsheaf junction improvement is part of the A229 Loose Road corridor scheme. The scheme includes the following junctions along the A229 into Maidstone:

The changes to the Wheatsheaf junction include:

  • improvements to the A229 Loose Road with A274 Sutton Road junction, to a reconfigured signalised junction
  • the demolishment of The Wheatsheaf public house, where the space will be used for improvements including a landscaped area
  • the widening of approaches to the junction
  • the closure of Cranbourne Avenue to create a child-friendly cul de sac.

Changes to the Loose Road corridor were consulted on as part of the Keep Maidstone Moving schemes, designed to reduce congestion, travel times and pollution in Maidstone.

Scheme costs

The total cost of the A229 Loose Road corridor is £5.63 million (excluding the purchase of the Wheatsheaf public house). The corridor scheme will be let as a single construction contract with the Local Growth Fund (LGF) contribution being £3.7 million and the developer contributions being £1.93 million.

The improvements are funded through the Maidstone Integrated Transport Package (MITP). The MITP is a wider package of highway schemes expected to cost £13.9 million in total, of which £8.9 million has been secured from the LGF obtained from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The remaining costs will be funded by Section 106 developer contributions from nearby housing developments.

Scheme documents

Download the Wheatsheaf junction improvements plan (PDF, 1.1 MB).

The Loose Road corridor has been identified as a transport priority for Maidstone in Kent County Council’s Local Transport Plan 4. Maidstone’s Local Plan also identified the need for improvements to the Wheatsheaf junction, Boughton Lane junction and Loose Road.

The traffic problems were recognised in the examination of the Local Plan, with the Inspector recommending further investigation of potential transport improvements.

The entire urban area of Maidstone is covered by an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). These improvements are crucial to reducing congestion, improving journey times and reducing air pollution.

The decision by the SELEP Accountability Board to grant Local Growth Funding for the Maidstone Integrated Transport Package (MITP) was made on 12 April 2019.

On 19 January 2021, our Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee endorsed the recommendations to give authority to take the next phase of the A229 Loose Road corridor improvements through to construction.

Scheme objectives

The scheme objectives are to:

  • reduce travel time along A229 corridor
  • improve the reliability of journey times
  • stop the deterioration of and improve air quality
  • enable planned housing and employment growth
  • reduce the use of unsuitable routes as rat-runs (cut-throughs).

Following a review of traffic surveys at the Wheatsheaf junction, before and after the closure of Cranborne Avenue, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, has made the decision that the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order currently in place for Cranborne Avenue will be made permanent when it expires on 24 September 2023.

Evidence from traffic surveys of the approximately 35,000 daily trips made through the junction proved the benefits expected from the trial closure had been realised with improvements to:

  • journey times
  • congestion
  • traffic queues on the A229 Loose Road and A274 Sutton Road.

To conclude this initial phase of works, measures will be put in place to formalise the closure by replacing the temporary barriers and signs with a permanent layout at the junction.

The next phase of the project will now be finalised to achieve the optimum design for the Wheatsheaf junction.

A further update will be provided when details for the next phase have been finalised.

Funded by

The government Growth Deal provides money to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, funding projects which drive Kent’s economic and business growth.