Councils to consider lorry park potential

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An “urgent and unmet need for official lorry parking facilities” has led Swale Borough Council, Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council and Highways England to consider exploring the potential for a lorry park in Swale.

A report to the city council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Wednesday 13 March recommends councillors authorise officers to carry out detailed investigations on the issue, building on early joint discussions that have already taken place.

In the report, councillors are told that “there is a specific issue along the M2/A2 corridor” and that Canterbury and Swale councils have a “mutual interest in exploring potential situations…there appears to be a common desire to consider options that could alleviate the problems being experienced by our communities”.

These problems, the report says, include “noise and air pollution from refrigeration units, anti-social behaviour and littering, negative road safety impacts and damage to verges and kerbs”.

It goes on to say the county council has been looking to address similar concerns across Kent and commissioned work to identify potential sites that could be delivered and operated by the private sector, adding that “an area near Brenley Corner is one under consideration”.

If the recommendation is agreed, the next stage of work will look at developing a business case, addressing planning concerns, understanding legal implications and land issues and ensuring appropriate enforcement arrangements are developed.

The enforcement work would look at the experience of Ashford Borough Council, which is currently experimenting with an overnight lorry parking ban in a designated exclusion area.

Leader of Canterbury City Council and Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, Cllr Simon Cook, said: “So far, we have had very helpful preliminary discussions, and there are many issues that need to be investigated. Both ourselves and Swale are keen to see this further work get underway as swiftly as possible if given the green light by councillors.

“As well as resolving what is an important issue for local residents, official parking facilities would also provide lorry drivers with a decent place to get their rest.”

Leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Andrew Bowles, said: “It’s been around 15 years since I first started trying to find a solution to this issue, and now it looks like we finally have the chance to make some real progress.

“People across the borough have suffered from inappropriate lorry parking – and unsightly side-effects from a minority of drivers – for too long.

“By working with partners and the haulage industry to create a specific site within easy access to the strategic road network, we would then want to have the enforcement powers to direct badly parked lorries to move there, or face clamping, which will cost them a lot more to remove than an overnight stay.”

KCC cabinet member for highways Mike Whiting said: “Inappropriate lorry parking is a scourge that I am determined to tackle. KCC has been working with a range of public and private partners to find solutions and I welcome the interest shown by both Canterbury City Council and Swale Borough Council in developing a new lorry park in their area.”

The Policy and Resources Committee takes place on Wednesday 13 March at 7pm at the Guildhall in Canterbury and is open to the public.

Swale Borough Council will consider the issue at its Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 20 March.