Published: 12:50, 23 July 2020
| Updated: 12:53, 23 July 2020
A Kent MP is calling for robust plans to ensure a key A-road does not become a "rat run" for HGVs when a huge lorry park opens.
While fears over the repercussions on Ashford's surrounding network have been laid bare following the government's purchase of a 27-acre plot of land off the M20, a swathe of critics concerned about the impact on the whole of east Kent have hit out at the plan.
As the new site is to become a customs centre for border checks, lorry drivers wanting to head up the A2 from Dover could instead be diverted to go along the M20 to Ashford.
They will then be miles off their intended route, and in order to get back on track, many believe they will cut along either the A251 to Faversham or the A28 to reach the A2 at Wincheap.
MP Helen Whately says she hopes to prevent the A251 from becoming a lorry rat-run.
“I absolutely understand local residents’ concerns about a potential increase in HGV traffic along the A251,” she said.
“I am calling for a robust plan to prevent this road becoming a lorry rat run, and I am pleased to have secured a meeting with the minister responsible to press for a solution.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem) fears the lorry park could cause significant problems for Canterbury’s road system.
“It’s bound to bring far more traffic problems on already congested roads,” he said.
“Those using the lorry park at Ashford then make a lot more use of the A28 and all of the roads around here.
“We’ve already got a significant lorry problem on the Wincheap Industrial Estate and in Bridge - this is going to exacerbate them.
“The cost of this lorry site isn’t just going to be financial, it’ll be a cost for everyone in east Kent and the Canterbury district.
“We all knew this was likely to happen, it’s just a huge sadness this is something imposed on us by ourselves.”
Plans to build a large lorry park on an undisclosed plot of land near Brenley Corner were shelved earlier this year.
Swale and Canterbury councils had joined forces in a vision to address the “urgent and unmet” need for official HGV parking in east Kent, but Swale pulled out of the scheme citing a desire to prioritise improving the notoriously busy junction.