Thursday, 25 September 2014

County planning decisions upset local councils

In little over a week Kent County Council has managed to upset a number of its local council partners, MPs, and potentially one of the county’s most important investment projects, following a number of planning decisions.

Despite opposition from Dover and Shepway district councils over the possible locations for a new lorry park, KCC has pushed ahead with its plans. In an effort to consign Operation Stack to history, KCC identified three possible sites for a new lorry park, including: 

· Westenhanger, adjacent to Stop24, on the M20 at Junction 11 – offering 300 places

· Land adjacent to Ashford International Truckstop - 278 places

· White Cliffs Business Park, Dover - 237 places

KCC’s environment and transport committee has decided to make Westenhanger its preferred location in a move supported by the Road Haulage Association, but opposed by Sheway District Council, who argued that their views have been ignored in selecting this greenfield site which is highly visible from the M20. 

The proposals will now be the subject of a full public consultation early next year, with the prospect of it being built by May 2018 if approved.

KCC’s decision to give the go-ahead for plans to build a power plant with a 213ft chimney in Swanscombe - near the site of the proposed Paramount Park, going against the views of the both Gravesham and Dartford councils, and Dartford MP Gareth Johnson - has also received criticism. 

The two borough councils, plus Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council, opposed Teal Energy’s plans for an energy from waste plant over concerns that it would negatively impact on the proposed visitor attraction, pollute the air and lead to an increase in HGV movements.

With Paramount Park not yet having secured planning, KCC decided not to take the prospect of its development and opening into consideration when making its decision.

Paramount Park hasn't made a public pronouncement on the decision, but it’s hard to believe they’ll have welcomed the prospect of a 200ft plus chimney being visible from their proposed theme park and visitor attraction.

Gareth Johnson, MP, has already called for Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State to review the decision and hopes it’ll be overturned. 

It’s one of those planning decisions that’ll be worth watching.

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