Published: 15:01, 01 December 2017
The Transport Secretary has given the green light to a proposed multi-million pound motorway junction.
Consent was given for the junction 10a scheme on the M20 at Ashford, which will be built 700 yards east of the current junction.
The £104.4 million scheme was first revealed a decade ago, and has been considered one of Ashford Borough Council’s so called “big eight” projects.
It could unlock development along the A2070 trunk road, where giant warehouses in the Stour Park Development are set to be built.
It will be delivered by Highways England which will be part funding the project, along with Ashford Borough Council.
Regional delivery director Chris Welby-Everard said: "This motorway junction will be the biggest boost for Ashford since the arrival of international rail services nearly 20 years ago.
"Junction 10a will unlock job-creating developments in the area and will take pressure off the existing junction 10.
“Without it in place, the future economic growth of Ashford would have been constrained. Today’s news will bring real confidence that we will have the road capacity needed to enable a major programme of economic and commercial development and house building."
The final decision was made by Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling after advice from the Planning Inspectorate (PI).
PI chief executive Sarah Richards said: “The inspectorate has again demonstrated its ability to examine Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) within the timescales laid down in the Planning Act 2008.
“This provides developers and investors with the confidence to build and improve the infrastructure this country needs to secure future economic growth.”
Construction work is now expected to start early in the new year.
It will involve the demolition of the Wyevale Garden Centre in Hythe Road, and will create a new junction close to the Pilgrims Hospice.
Former council leader Paul Bartlett represents villagers in Mersham and Sevington who had originally opposed the plans.
He said the disadvantage to the area would be traffic passing through the villages, but praised planning inspectors for hearing people's concerns in public meetings.
Cllr Bartlett said he was a "reluctant supporter" of the scheme. He said: "We recognise the congestion at junction 10, and that there is a need for the new junction."
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