Orig­i­nal think­ing serves up fresh ideas

The an­nounce­ment of a huge lorry park off the M20 has sparked protests by vil­lagers close to the pro­posed site but prompted some in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tives sug­gested by Kent res­i­dents. re­ports

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Stack Solution -

One of the crit­i­cisms lev­elled at High­ways Eng­land dur­ing the Op­er­a­tion Stack lorry park con­sul­ta­tion was that it had not thought out­side the box.

The pro­pos­als for a min­i­mum 3,600 space lorry park at Stan­ford have been de­scribed by res­i­dents all along the M20 cor­ri­dor as a knee-jerk re­ac­tion and plonk­ing con­crete down to cover the symp­toms rather than the cause of dis­rup­tion but the Ex­press has been con­tacted sev­eral times al­ready from read­ers about their thoughts on the ways to solve Op­er­a­tion Stack.

Some of the so­lu­tions are some­what dif­fer­ent, in­volv­ing a new re­lief road, dredg­ing one of the busiest ports in the coun­try and re­de­vel­op­ing a race­course to in­clude lorry park­ing pro­vi­sion.

Brian Marchant from Ash­ford is a re­tired lorry driver who had a 30-year ca­reer on the roads. He says he be­lieves the best so­lu­tion is to build “an en­tirely new road”.

His idea is for a new dual car­riage­way with hard shoul­der re­lief road that runs along­side the M20 be­tween junc­tions 8 and 9.

Two of the three lanes in each di­rec­tion would be shut to al­low lor­ries to stack, cre­at­ing about 26 miles of road to use. The rest of the time it would op­er­ate as a nor­mal dual car­riage­way, Mr Marchant says.

He feels it would also be able to cope with ac­ci­dents on the M20 which cause de­lays and says it will ben­e­fit in sev­eral ways and also be able to cope with off-road fa­cil­i­ties at two lo­ca­tions on the route.

He said: “It would by­pass all vil­lages from Maid­stone to Ash­ford caus­ing less con­ges­tion and dras­ti­cally lower pol­lu­tion lev­els from slow mov­ing and sta­tion­ary traf­fic.

“Emer­gency ve­hi­cles will have clear ac­cess to sur­round­ing vil­lages even in times of Op­er­a­tion Stack. It will pre­vent driv­ers us­ing coun­try lanes as a short cut mak­ing them much safer to use for lo­cal res­i­dents.

“At this mo­ment it will be af­fect­ing be­tween 12 and 18 houses,” he added.

“That’s a rough es­ti­mate but you’ve got 200 down there at Stan­ford that would be af­fected.

He says toi­let fa­cil­i­ties can be brought in when they are re­quired much like the sys­tem in place last sum­mer.

An­other idea takes in the re­de­vel­op­ment plans around Westen­hanger and Folke­stone Race­course. The area has again come into the pub­lic eye af­ter Shep­way District Coun­cil bought 350 acres of farm­land near to the race­course ear­lier this year for £5.2 mil­lion.

Sug­ges­tions are be­ing made that the coun­cil aims to re­vive its mas­ter­plan to re­de­velop Westen­hanger but the coun­cil is re­main­ing tight-lipped on its plans for the site.

Pro­pos­als for 820 houses were re­jected by a govern­ment’s plan­ning in­spec­tor be­fore SDC’s lat­est plan­ning blue­print was adopted in 2013 with­out Westen­hanger in­cluded.

Folke­stone ar­chi­tect Roger Joyce has long been a sup­porter of de­vel­op­ing Westen­hanger into a new com­mu­nity with hous­ing, a re­de­vel­oped race­course with con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties and park­way sta­tion at­tached to the HS1 link.

He be­lieves it could also be in­cor­po­rated with lorry park­ing fa­cil­i­ties in an area used as a new county show­ground and the pro­pos­als for lorry park­ing be­tween the M20 and rail­way line.

He says he hopes this would “cre­ate a legacy out of the lorry park” and would re­quire “some imag­i­na­tion and in­tel­li­gent plan­ning, some­thing that SDC and the cab­i­net lack”.

Of course much of the im­pact is thought to be cen­tred around Ash­ford, Folke­stone and the M20 com­mu­ni­ties but an­other op­tion put for­ward is to re­claim an area of the sea to the east of Shake­speare cliff near Dover har­bour ca­pa­ble of hold­ing the 3,600 lor­ries High­ways Eng­land has stated is the min­i­mum re­quire­ment.

Ron Kennedy says Dover Har­bour Board should bear some re­spon­si­bil­ity for the “ex­po­nen­tial growth” ex­pected at the port in the fu­ture and pro­pos­als for adding just 220 spa­ces to its cur­rent ca­pac­ity in­side the port.

Mr Kennedy said: “The fa­cil­ity would pro­vide overnight park­ing for freight traf­fic prior to and post board­ing Chan­nel fer­ries and for those trav­el­ling to the con­ti­nent.

“Cus­toms and Ex­cise would have a larger area in which to con­tain ve­hi­cles for in­spec­tion.”

Pic­ture: Si­mon Burchett/ Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM3945006

Dover East­ern Docks; Old lorry park at junc­tion 11 on the M20; Op­er­a­tion Stack be­tween junc­tions 9 and 10 of the M20

Pic­ture: Si­mon Burchett

The pro­posed site of the lorry park near junc­tion 11 on the M20

Folke­stone ar­chi­tect Roger Joyce has sug­gested in­cor­po­rat­ing the lorry park into a re­de­vel­oped Westen­hanger, left

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