The decision by Ashford Borough Council to approve the plans to develop the Waterbrook site near Junction 10 is one of the most significant taken by the planning committee in recent years. It not only confirms that there will be a significant modern development in the area, but it is also Ashford’s contribution to solving the lorry parking problem that has plagued Kent for so many years.
The new Truckstop will have spaces for 600 HGVs, and this increase in capacity means that one of the excuses for parking in inappropriate places next to residential areas or in business parks has gone. The Truckstop is much less likely to be full in future. This gives an added fillip to the enforcement activities that the Council has been taking in recent years.
Obviously we need more parking capacity around Kent, both for the avoidance of Operation Stack and for the day-to-day needs of the haulage industry, but if other parts of the County could be equally forward-looking then we could see the increased capacity come in a series of smaller decisions. If this does not happen, we will still need one big lorry park conveniently situated near Dover and the Tunnel.
Of course Waterbrook will involve much more than the Truckstop in future. There will be 400 new homes, a park with a lake to keep them apart from the business activities, and a whole new set of commercial premises which we are told will provide 950 jobs. There will also be shops for the residents of Finberry as well as Waterbrook.
All of which is good progress. Parliament, after a tense few months, is now in recess until the autumn, when the vital phase of the Brexit negotiations happens. We all need a rest, so have a good summer break, and this column will resume in September.