'Saxon wall' found on Ashford post-Brexit lorry park site near Junction 10a of M20

The discovery of what is believed to be a Saxon wall has stopped construction on part of Ashford’s post-Brexit lorry park. Contractors are turning a 27-acre site in Sevington into a holding area for up to 2,000 trucks after the government snapped up the land in a secret deal.

A wall which is believed to be Saxon has been found at Ashford's post-Brexit lorry park A wall which is believed to be Saxon has been found at Ashford’s post-Brexit lorry park

But workers have found the remains of a wall close to Church Road, forcing them to pause construction on a section of land not far from the A2070 dual carriageway. Work is continuing on the rest of the site as the government gears up for disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period in December, but temporary orange fencing now surrounds the spot where the wall has been found.

Margaret Atkins, who has lived in Church Road for 61 years, says she thinks it could be part of a Saxon village.

“It is quite interesting,” she said. “They have put little flags in the ground where they have found lots of bits and pieces.

What could be a Saxon wall has been discovered in one corner of the site next to Church Road What could be a Saxon wall has been discovered in one corner of the site next to Church Road

“And they haven’t done any work on that part since they found the wall a couple of weeks ago – it’s quite exciting.” Mrs Atkins, whose house overlooks the lorry park site, thinks more discoveries could be made.

The Anglo-Saxon age in Britain was from about AD410 to 1066.

“Sevington is old in parts – the church here goes back a long time – so there must be a lot left behind,” Mrs Atkins added. “I haven’t asked anybody about this find, but it could be part of a Saxon village.

Temporary orange fencing now surrounds the area where the discovery was made Temporary orange fencing now surrounds the area where the discovery was made

“I know they have found bones and bits of pottery on the site.” The Department for Transport (DfT) is planning “two primary uses” for the land – a temporary lorry holding area in case there is disruption at Dover and as a border control post to check truckers have the correct paperwork.

Since 2015, the plot – close to Junction 10a of the M20 – has had planning permission for an industrial estate which was previously dubbed Stour Park but was rebranded as MOJO last year. Linda Arthur, who lives in Mersham, says a contractor working on the site told her a Saxon discovery had been made. She said: “It is not surprising because it is right next to the church and settlements would have been built close to that.

“Local people should have their say”

“They will have to do something about it as they need to protect it.

“I don’t know if it will hold up the work as I think it is in an area where they were only landscaping anyway. “But now there’s been one find, there’s bound to be more Saxon walls on that land and they have been doing so much digging.” Yesterday, Rachel Maclean, MP and parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport, visited the MOJO site with Ashford MP Damian Green and Ashford Borough Council’s deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con).

Ashford MP Damian Green, Rachel Maclean and Cllr Paul Bartlett on the MOJO site yesterday Ashford MP Damian Green, Rachel Maclean and Cllr Paul Bartlett on the MOJO site yesterday

Mr Green – who previously described the plan as “wrong-headed” – aired his concerns over the plan during the visit.

“I emphasised to the minister that the parish council should be consulted – local people should have their say,” he said. “I believe that should be happening next week, which I’m very happy about. “It was really good to be able to go to the site and talk it through with the minister; I do feel confident that my concerns have been heard and will be addressed, and they are trying very hard to be as co-operative as possible.”

“It is only right that we have contingency plans in place”

Mr Green said he also discussed concerns over the potential development of the field next to the lorry park site.

Residents living in Mersham are calling for a green buffer zone to be created on land between the village and the HGV holding area. The DfT is currently storing soil from the MOJO land on the field. Mr Green said: “One of the main practical issues that was discussed was the second, unused part of the development,” he said.

“People locally want to make sure that it will stay a green site, we need to make sure that there is still something that separates Mersham from the developed area.”

During her visit to Kent, MP Rachel Maclean watched a demonstration of the new Operation Brock barrier at Manston Airport During her visit to Kent, MP Rachel Maclean watched a demonstration of the new Operation Brock barrier at Manston Airport

Last month, Mrs Maclean sent a letter to residents living close to the MOJO plot confirming the government had bought the site. She also apologised to residents for the project’s secrecy, saying she was sorry they had to learn the news from the press. Following yesterday’s visit, she said: “The UK will be a fully independent country from January 1 and Kent has a vital role to play in making sure we are ready to take advantage of the opportunities on offer outside the EU.

“As a responsible government, it is only right that we have contingency plans in place to handle any potential short-term queues at the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean tried out the new 'zipper machine' which will be used to install the Operation Brock barrier Rachel Maclean tried out the new ‘zipper machine’ which will be used to install the Operation Brock barrier

“But I want to assure businesses and the local community that their views are being heard and this government is working hard to minimise the impact of any contingency work taking place. “After visiting the site and meeting those involved, I’m confident we are doing everything we can to ensure that our borders are ready for the end of the year.” While in the county, Mrs Maclean also visited Manston Airport where she saw a demonstration of the new moveable barrier which will be used for Operation Brock on the M20.

Work will start on the dreaded contraflow between Junctions 8 and 9 on Tuesday when lane restrictions and a 50mph limit will return on the London-bound site. KentOnline has asked the Department for Transport for a comment on the Saxon find, but is yet to receive a response. How is Brexit going to affect Kent?

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