Tonbridge conservation scare as stone slabs are replaced by tarmac
A "BLACK hole" has appeared in the heart of Tonbridge's conservation area.
But residents will be pleased to know the tarmacing near the entrance to the castle is only a temporary measure.
Contractors hired by Kent County Council to replace the cracked and crumbling York stones ripped them up before the new slabs had arrived. As a safety measure, tarmac was laid down near the bus stops, and will be there for eight weeks.
The lack of signs led residents to believe the smooth black surface was there to stay.
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Residents, local businesses and councillors have all criticised the county council for its actions.
Nigel Love, who works in Bridge House offices opposite the castle, said: "It's jaw-dropping. When I saw that, I got more and more concerned that they were going to tarmac the whole lot.
"It's an eyesore. We looked at the planning portal to see what they were doing, we thought they might be building a sort of hut for the boating.
"Even though it's temporary the council shouldn't have kept us in the dark."
Priory Road resident Carl Lewis, 32, described the scene as a "black hole".
"I was quite struck when I saw it, walking up the High Street over the bridge and I saw this huge black hole in the nice slabs we have in the town," he said.
"The slabs complement the bridge, castle walls and the castle itself. Not many people are aware that it's temporary, it would be quite helpful to have a sign rather than people thinking they're tarmacing the town centre. I guess it's a stopgap measure to protect people."
Borough councillor Sarah Spence told the Courier Kent County Council should have "pulled their finger out" and put up signs to inform residents the tarmac was only going to be there temporarily.
"I'm surprised that Kent County Council haven't supplied any signage or information," she said. "I'm assured something will be done as soon as possible but it was a bit of shock-horror moment.
"I could see people getting incredibly upset. Kent County Council should pull their finger out.
"It looks terrible but it is temporary. It was a case of bad timing and a delay in the paving."
The slabs should be ready to be put in place in eight weeks' time, Ms Spence said, adding. "I hope it's only eight weeks.
"It's not in our (the borough council's) power to organise Kent County Council's timeline on jobs but they could have had a bit more foresight."
According to Ms Spence, the county council will be putting up "temporary footpath" signs and are in the process of preparing bespoke signs explaining what is going on.
Kent County Council had not commented at the time of going to press.