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Location Map ( geo)
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Highway Authority
Forward Destination on
M20, A229, A249
Next Primary Destinations
Ashford • Canterbury • Hastings • London • Ramsgate • Sheerness
Other Nearby Destinations
Chatham • Tenterden • Tonbridge
Places related to the M20
Places related to the A229
Places related to the A249

Maidstone is the county town of Kent, lying on the River Medway. It is roughly in the middle of the traditional Country of Kent and is the headquarters of modern Kent Council. Several major roads either start in Maidstone or pass through it; including the A20 / M20 route from London to the Channel Tunnel, the A229 running along the north-south axis, the A26 and A249.

An A20 bypass of Maidstone had been planned since the 1930s, but was only completed in 1960, as the first section of what's now the M20 (then called A20(M)). It was finally extended east of Bearsted in 1991 towards Ashford. While the M20 and northbound A229 have seen continual improvements from the 70s to the 90s, the southward A229 towards Loose and Cranbrook largely runs on the same route it did in 1922. The A26 in Maidstone is no longer considered a main through route, and traffic towards Tonbridge takes the M20, then the A228 further west.


Northern bypass

Maidstone in 1926

A bypass of Maidstone to the north had been planned since the 1930s. It was originally a dual carriageway bypass with at-grade junctions, including a roundabout with the A249. The proposals were halted during the war, and revisited in the 1950s. By then, motorways were gaining traction, and it was decided to redesign the bypass to full motorway standards. It opened as the A20(M) in 1961.

While the bypass was being planned, the Ministry of Transport realised the B2011 was being used as a de-facto Maidstone northern bypass. It was given a series of minor improvements, particularly a new bridge over the Medway at Aylesford, and re-classified as A2011. After the A20(M) opened, it was declassified. The road is, once again, used as a de-facto bypass of Maidstone when the M20 is closed, but this is discouraged as the route through Bearsted is not suitable for HGVs.

Inner Ring Road

Route B2 proposals late 60s

By the 1950s congestion in the town resulted in proposals for an inner ring road. The first known plan dates from 1961 which shows a dual carriageway with roundabouts. This forms a tighter loop around the north of the town centre than subsequent proposals by running to the south of the prison. Along with the inner ring road there would also have been another route further out to cater for through traffic. The earliest proposal is for a Route A running to the south of the inner ring road. This would have been elevated and start at the A20 at each end.

Over the next few years other routes were evaluated. They were given letters from B to D. A, C and D were eventually discarded leaving only the B routes were later broken down to B1, B2 and B3. The B routes all run north-south to the west of the town centre. They all start at the Wheatsheaf in the south and head north to either the A20 (B and B1) or A229 (B2). The clear favourite was B2 which would remove the most traffic from the town centre. Property had started being acquired in the vicinity of the large Westborough Interchange.

Route B3 proposals 1970

Concerns were raised about the amount of property required and the disturbance to the area around Westborough Interchange, not least from residents who realised their homes would be affected once the plans were published. A route running nearer the railway was therefore investigated and found to be superior on amenity grounds involving far less demolition. This route was known as B3 and became the agreed line of the road in 1970 and the former protected line of B2 was abandoned with the acquired property resold. The scheme by now was known as the Western Relief Road.

The inner ring road meanwhile also went through various revisions until the layout was finalised in around 1967. The northern section would now pass to the north of the prison. It was anticipated the B3 road wouldn't be built for some time so the inner ring road would have to handle all through traffic in the meantime hence the GSJ at Upper/Lower Stone Street. Construction would be in three phases. The western side would be built first, then the south and finally the northeast. The western side was built much as planned including the large roundabout over the river. The rest was never completed although part of the southeast section was built later although not to the original proposals.

These proposals lingered on for a few years during the early 1970s but were abandoned sometime around 1974 when local government reorganisation and the effects of the oil crisis killed similar schemes up and down the country. The proposals didn't completely die however. Watered down plans saw the A229 between the town centre and Sandling Interchange dualled in the early 90s which feeds directly into the western side of the inner ring road, something the original plans didn't feature.


Route To Notes




Ashford, Channel Tunnel, Dover


(M2), Chatham, Blue Bell Hill


Hastings, Loose


(M2), Ramsgate, Canterbury, Sheerness, County Showground


Aylesford, W. Malling




Tonbridge, Barming


Tenterden, Park Wood


Yalding, Farleigh


A20 • A20(M) • A26 • A229 • A249 • A274 • A2011 (Maidstone) • A2020 • B2010 • B2011 (Maidstone) • B2012 • B2013 • B2078 • B2246 • E2 (Old System) • E5 (Old System) • E15 • M20 • T4 (Britain)
Related Pictures
View gallery (16)
Two bridges across the River Medway - Geograph - 1513035.jpgGeograph-3913217-by-Marathon.jpgWestborough Interchange late 60s.pngBridges over the River Medway, Maidstone - Geograph - 3639690.jpgSt Peter's Bridge over River Medway in Maidstone - Geograph - 4681524.jpg
Places in South East England
Major DestinationsBrighton • Canterbury • Channel Tunnel • Chichester • Dover • Guildford
Primary DestinationsAshford • Bognor Regis • Crawley • Dartford Crossing • Dorking • East Grinstead • Eastbourne • Farnham • Folkestone • Gatwick Airport • Hastings • Horsham • Lewes • Maidstone • Margate • Newhaven • Ramsgate • Reigate • Sevenoaks • Sheerness • Staines • Thamesport • Tunbridge Wells • Uckfield • Worthing
Other PlacesBexhill • Billingshurst • Brenzett • Burgess Hill • Chatham • Dartford • Esher • Ewell • Faversham • Gillingham • Gravesend • Haywards Heath • Hindhead • Hove • Hythe • Leatherhead • Littlehampton • Midhurst • Redhill • Rochester • Rye • Sandwich • Shoreham-by-Sea • Sittingbourne • Swanley • Tenterden • Tonbridge • Weybridge • Woking

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