Lorry park plan to get nuisance HGVs off country lanes

One of the UK’s largest fresh produce companies is planning to create a lorry park at its Canterbury base to combat HGV drivers leaving their vehicles in lay-bys and country lanes. A Gomez wants to reconfigure its site off Coldharbour Lane, Bridge, to make room for an increased number of lorries to stay overnight.

The firm is hoping to provide space for 26 lorries The firm is hoping to provide space for 26 lorries

But the proposals, which would see 118 car parking spaces removed, have sparked a backlash from opponents who fear the project will be “harmful” to the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The criticism has been dismissed by the firm’s chief site operations manager, Neil Cook, who says it will benefit the area.

“Historically, there’s always been the problem of drivers using the surrounding roads,” he said.

“(The new park) won’t solve the problem, so I’m not saying it’s going to be 100% successful, but it will be much more successful than the current situation of having lorries parked up on roads. “We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here. I don’t understand criticising it, as having a lorry park will actually benefit the surrounding area.

The plan is hoped to get lorries out of lay-bys The plan is hoped to get lorries out of lay-bys

“Surely if we’re taking an amount of lorries off the road, that is a good thing.

I’m at a loss as to why it would get criticism. “This is our land. It’s not like we’re constructing a whole new site, we’re just repurposing our current layout.

“We have a lot of under-utilised car parking spaces, so the logical solution is to make extra room for lorries.”

The 24-hour lorry park would be used exclusively by Gomez drivers, catering for 26 HGVs. Truckers will be able to use existing toilet and shower facilities at the base, which has been in operation since 1989.

HGV drivers can use the toilet facilities at the site HGV drivers can use the toilet facilities at the site

“Some days we have less lorries, sometimes we have more lorries,” Mr Cook said. “We probably have about 50 a day.

“Having a space for them to stay off the road will be of great benefit to the area.” However, the Kent Downs group, which safeguards the AONB, is opposed to the plan. Planning manager Katie Miller said: “It is considered that the proposal would have a harmful impact on the special characteristics and qualities of the AONB that would fail to meet the key national and local policy requirements for proposals to conserve and enhance landscape and scenic beauty.”

The A Gomez site outside Bridge The A Gomez site outside Bridge

As part of the Gomez project, a line of shrubbery and trees will be uprooted to make way for access.

On Friday, we featured a story about a lay-by littered with bottles of urine, tyres and plastic bags which was branded an “absolute embarrassment of filth”, because it has been abused by lorry drivers for years and “is used as a tip”.

Shocking footage showed the hedgerows along the entire 300m stretch at Ropersole, off the A2 near Barham, are covered in rubbish.