At the monthly Parish Council Meeting on 12th February in the Cardwell Pavilion, Hollingbourne Parish Council voted to make a £1000 contribution to the legal costs of CPRE in their recent unsuccessful High Court bid to stop development on Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 of the M20 which is within the Parish of Hollingbourne. It is understood that the total legal costs incurred by CPRE, a registered charity, amounted to £30,000 and other pledges that have already been made include £1500 from Bearsted Parish Council, £750 from Thurnham Parish Council, and £1500 from individuals. Although all members of Hollingbourne Parish Council supported helping CPRE a minority favoured a smaller amount.
Outline planning permission for a 495,000 square foot warehousing and distribution complex was given by Maidstone Borough Council at the end of November 2017 despite strong opposition from all local Parish Councils, Kent County Council, CPRE, Leeds Castle, Natural England, the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, and by thousands of local residents.
Previous schemes on the site have been successfully opposed by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council with the support of local Councils and residents and some £3 million of public money has been spent fighting development schemes over the last 25 years.
The current scheme from Roxhill PLC will be on farm land on the edge of an ANOB and at the point where the M20 is closed for Operation Stack. The A20 at Junction 8 already has traffic issues and Hollingbourne Parish Council is pressing KCC for part time traffic lights on the A20 in order that the volume of traffic can be better managed. Local KCC Councillor Shellina Prendergast has advised Hollingbourne PC that there are no funds for traffic lights despite the serious rush hour congestion around Hollingbourne Corner and at the Leeds Castle roundabout. A much needed relief road for Leeds and Langley has been discussed for decades but as yet there are no firm plans to build one.
Operation Stack, which is the parking of vehicles on the M20, when there are delays on the Channel ferries, may become more frequent after Brexit in March 2019 because the transfer time through Customs at Dover per vehicle is expected to increase from an average of 2 minutes to 20 minutes. This is because the UK will be leaving the European Transit Convention. In the past Operation Stack has created traffic problems for Hollingbourne and other communities along the M20 and elsewhere in Kent.
The Port of Dover expect major traffic jams after Brexit if the present volume of 10,000+ vehicles per day continue. However other factors may affect the volume of traffic including the fact that the EU is currently only offering 1200 lorry licences versus the 75000 UK lorries which are currently engaged in cross Channel traffic. Additionally all UK lorry drivers will need a EU Professional Competency Certificate if they wish to drive in the EU.
These possible constraints on the volume of traffic using the M20 after Brexit may affect the viability of a new distribution centre on the M20 especially as there is already spare warehousing capacity elsewhere on the M20 and M2.
Hollingbourne Parish Council is concerned about traffic issues on the M20 after Brexit and this will be one of the topics discussed at a meeting next month with the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. Another unrelated issue is the fact that local PCSO’s no longer attend Parish Council Meetings or provide local Crime Reports.
The Minutes of the February Parish Council Meeting will be published in due course.
Pictured below is Woodcut Farm on the A20 at Junction 8 of the M20.