Full-ca­pac­ity truck­stop says it must dou­ble size

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By po­lit­i­cal editor Paul Fran­cis

As many as 200 HGVs a week are be­ing turned away from one of the county’s largest lorry parks as the growth in traf­fic from the con­ti­nent con­tin­ues to rise.

Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Truck­stop, off the M20 near Junc­tion 10, is record­ing its high­est ever oc­cu­pancy rates, high­light­ing what the own­ers say is the grow­ing need for its ex­pan­sion.

Fig­ures for June and July this year show the park was oper­at­ing at 97% ca­pac­ity – 8% higher than the same pe­riod in 2016 and 10% more than in 2015.

More ve­hi­cles are ar­riv­ing through the Channel Tun­nel and Port of Dover and us­ing Ash­ford as a stop-off point af­ter ar­rival and be­fore departing the coun­try.

Bosses say the grow­ing pres­sure on the site un­der­lines the case for its plans to ex­pand to dou­ble in size to take in 600 lor­ries.

Dar­ren Smith, gen­eral man­ager of Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Truck­stop, said: “In­creas­ing the stop’s ca­pac­ity would not only strengthen the lo­cal econ­omy but also re­duce the num­ber of lor­ries il­le­gally park­ing on Ash­ford’s roads.

“What we face is a sup­plyand-de­mand issue. We cur­rently have the de­mand for spa­ces, but not enough spa­ces to match that de­mand.”

De­tails of the scheme for Water­brook de­vel­op­ment went on show this week, in­di­cat­ing the planned ex­pan­sion of the lorry park along­side plans for 400 homes on the 150-acre site.

It comes as a re­port re­leased ear­lier this week warned Kent could be grid­locked af­ter Brexit be­cause of the need to have new ar­range­ments for cus­toms checks once the UK leaves the EU.

The re­port by the eco­nomic con­sul­tancy Ox­era said the lack of lorry parks risked leav­ing the county ex­posed to the prospect of the semi-per­ma­nent in­sti­ga­tion of Op­er­a­tion Stack as checks last­ing 45 min­utes on each lorry may be needed.

Dar­rell Healey, chair­man of GSE Group, the own­ers of the Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Truck-

‘We cur­rently have the de­mand for spa­ces, but not enough spa­ces to match that de­mand’

stop, said: “The data show­ing the num­ber of lor­ries com­ing to the site each week and the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in these fig­ures over the past year demon­strates the ex­pan­sion is ur­gently needed.”

A hybrid plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is due to be sub­mit­ted in the next few weeks which will in­clude de­tailed plans for the new truck­stop and an out­line ap­pli­ca­tion for the rest of the site.

Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Truck­stop

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