A21 bypass homes to go back on market

House on route of A21 bypass
Image caption Squatters moved in to Bantony Manor, one of the 26 properties bought by the Highways Agency

Homes which were to be demolished to make way for a bypass which was later scrapped are to go back on the market.

The Highways Agency (HA) spent £19.56m buying 26 properties in Hurst Green, East Sussex, on the route of a proposed road to ease traffic on the A21.

Another £1.4m has been spent on maintenance and security for the homes but the bypass was scrapped in last month's government spending review.

The agency said the former owners would be given first refusal to buy them.

Much of the A21, which passes through Kent and East Sussex to Hastings, is single carriageway and plagued by traffic congestion.

The scrapped bypass was to have stretched for 5.5 miles (8.85 km) from Flimwell to Robertsbridge.

A £125m scheme to make the A21 a dual carriageway between Tonbridge and Pembury in Kent was put on hold in the spending review until at least 2015.

Blight lifted

Elsewhere in East Sussex, the £89m Bexhill to Hastings link road was deferred for at least a year and the government said it would have to compete with other proposals around the country for a share of the £600m earmarked for new development.

The money made from selling the homes will be returned to the Department for Transport.

East Sussex councillor Matthew Lock said that if £20m was raised from the sale of the Hurst Green homes, the cash should stay in the county.

"It should go to one of the other schemes - the link road or the Pembury dualling - so East Sussex residents can get some benefit," he said.

The agency said cancellation of the Flimwell to Robertsbridge scheme would lift planning blight in the area.

"Once route protection is lifted, the Highways Agency will sell the property and land held for this road scheme," a spokesman said.

"The money from the resale of property will be returned to the Department for Transport centrally who will decide how best it should be spent to obtain value for money."

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