Published: 12:21, 15 January 2022
| Updated: 12:37, 15 January 2022
More HGVs will travel in and out of a Kent quarry during rush hour times, it has been agreed.
Kent County Council's (KCC) 12-person committee unanimously approved the plans, despite raised concerns about more congestion in and around Maidstone, notably the Coldharbour Roundabout near Junction 5 of the M20.
Sheppey county councillor Andy Booth (Con), who is KCC's vice-chairman of the planning committee, urged the authority to exercise a note of caution.
He said: "I am sure we all very familiar with how busy that junction is exiting the M20 to the A20 and spur roads that lead into Maidstone or the west Ditton, Aylesford and Larkfield."
Other members said the enterprise provides "good quality jobs" for local people.
Hermitage Quarry supplies more than 70 products to markets both in Kent and the wider region, including ready mix concrete and flowing seeds.
HGVs must travel to the north of the site due to a weight limit imposed to the south of the quarry entrance near Hermitage Lane.
Currently, the highest average daily number of HGV journeys entering and leaving the site is a combined total of 600 movements per day, on average, excluding Saturdays and bank holidays.
The latest plans mean the maximum daily number of HGVs journeys in and out of the site could rise to 800 journeys, on average.
It will see the number of lorry movements rise during morning and evening weekday rush hour periods, from 150 to 250.
This will be between the hours of 6.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6pm.
However, HGV movements will be "significantly lower" on Saturdays.
Gallagher's says it is necessary to maintain the supply of key materials, such as mix concrete and stone, and to replace materials on landmark buildings.
Previous examples include the Tower of London and Canterbury Cathedral, the KCC committee was told.
The applicant says the changes will help boost Kent's local economy and result in more jobs being secured.
In addition, Gallagher's will contribute £50,000 towards a new footpath and cycleway to the east of Hermitage Lane, between the entrance to Barming Railway Station and Maidstone Hospital.
Cllr Harry Rayner (Con), of Malling West, sitting on KCC's planning committee, said: "Gallaghers operate and manage this facility extremely well.
"Gallagher's provide good quality local jobs and a number of the employees come from my division."
No objections were received from Maidstone Borough Council, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, Aylesford Parish Council and Ditton Parish Council.