by political editor Paul Francis
Plans to build a second "super-highways depot" at a site near Maidstone have been unexpectedly dropped.
Kent County Council recently announced it had found a spot for its highways depot as part of a long-running search for a site.
But it has now confirmed that it is abandoning the plan for a depot on the former site of Reeds Paperworks in the New Hythe area of Larkfield.
Cllr Nick Chard (Con), Kent County Council cabinet member for highways, said: "We will be developing its current site at Doubleday House, in Aylesford. This offers a value-for-money solution to ensure the maximum investment can be made in front line services."
It is unclear why the Larkfield location has been dropped. Highways chiefs had been expected to submit a planning application shortly.
Cllr Trudy Dean (Lib Dem), opposition leader at County Hall and a county councillor for Larkfield said: "I am pleased that the threat of more lorries on Leybourne Way and New Hythe Lane has been dropped. The demand for the super-depot arose from KCC’s deal with Jacobs Babtie and Ringway for staff of these companies to share offices with KCC. I have never favoured this arrangement."
County road chiefs have been searching for a site for a "super depot" for more than a year after being forced to abandon earlier plans to build it on a site off the A20 on London Road at Wrotham.
The Wrotham proposal hit the buffers after KCC decided not to contest a Judicial Review brought by opponents of the scheme.
County councillors were told a deal to buy the land needed had been agreed but it was dependent on the authority securing planning permission.
The county council has been dogged by a series of setbacks in its search for a depot, which it needs as a base for salting and maintenance lorries, as well as offices and car parking.
A wide-reaching re-organisation began when KCC took back control of road maintenance from district councils in 2006.
Since then, it has opened a new depot at Ashford but has been unable to complete the shake-up because of the difficulties caused by trying to build its west Kent depot at Wrotham.