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Newchurch on Romney Marsh could house post-Brexit lorry park

By Sean Axtell

A village could house the UK’s first post-Brexit lorry park as concerns swell over potential 13 mile motorway tailbacks.

A four-acre site in the heart of Newchurch in Romney Marsh is up for auction for £1,750,000, marketed as a possible "distribution centre or lorry/storage depot following Brexit".

The move shows some landowners are looking set to profit from predicted border chaos.

The land is said to have "significant potential"
The land is said to have "significant potential"

The advert on Rightmove says: “Freehold former industrial estate and distribution centre with significant potential.

"Four acre “brownfield” site with 43,400sq ft internal areas, potential “Brexit” lorry park/storage, significant redevelopment or expansion opportunity.

“(They) could include a redevelopment for residential providing a significant number of dwellings subject to the necessary consents.

Operation Stack grinds Kent to a halt
Operation Stack grinds Kent to a halt

“Alternative uses could include expanded use as a distribution centre or lorry/storage depot following Brexit.

"The total built footprint of some 3,200sqm represents a site coverage of only 7% and therefore the site offers a huge potential for expansion of the existing commercial space for a far more intense site utilisation."

The former Westgate Industrial Estate, based off The Street, was previously the home of Westgate EFI, an equestrian goods supplier.

Now auctioneer Barnard Marcus will place the land, including two warehouses, under the hammer in London on Monday.

It comes after councils vented their frustration at government plans for a 13-mile lorry park on the M20 that will last “many years" after Brexit.

The £20 million government scheme - known as Operation Brock – begun in the summer with hard shoulders being reinforced to sustain hundreds of parked lorries between Ashford and Maidstone.

The potential lorry park site is in Newchurch
The potential lorry park site is in Newchurch

Dover District Council’s Brexit impact report shows irritation towards central government, raising concerns that time is running out before the March 2019 deadline.

It warns the alternative proposal to Operation Stack “needs to be delivered before any customs arrangements in March 2019 but a start date for necessary road works has not yet been announced and there does not appear to be a Plan B.”

The report added a new system for a contra-flow should not “impede the practical and physical operations of businesses in the Dover district, for example being forced to travel to Maidstone to join the end of the queue to come back to Dover port.”

The 48-page report identifies the issue as one of the main risks facing Dover and says the Government must treat “the free flow of traffic through the port as a top priority” and consider alternative plans for the prospect “of a hard/high friction Brexit.”

The site will go to auction on Monday
The site will go to auction on Monday

“The current transport infrastructure - which is insufficient to respond to changing border arrangements, puts the local and UK economy at risk.”

Dover's opposition Labour group leader Cllr Mike Eddy said the report showed how ill prepared the county was for dealing with Brexit.

In 2015, 4,600 lorries queued back 20 miles in Operation Stack, costing the UK economy an estimated £250 million per day.

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