The start of work on a new, larger Ashford International Truckstop has been formally marked with a groundbreaking ceremony.
Local MP Damian Green joined Darrell Healey, Chairman of site owners GSE Group, to perform the ceremony on Friday (September 21st).
The new 600 HGV capacity truckstop is the first stage of the development of the wider 140 acre Waterbrook site, which will include 400 new homes, new commercial property creating nearly 1,000 jobs, shops, restaurants and parkland.
“The Waterbrook development has been many years in the planning,” said Darrell Healey. “We have worked closely with the Borough Council throughout to ensure what is built here will make a significant and positive contribution to the future of the town as a place where people want to live and work.
“When it opens next year, the truckstop will have double the capacity of the existing site and will help tackle the long-standing issue of illegally parked HGVs on the roads, many of them residential, around the borough. What follows across the rest of the site will be a whole new community fit for the 21st century.”
Ashford MP Damian Green visited the current truckstop last year for a briefing on the Waterbrook proposals and returned for the groundbreaking ceremony.
He said: “This is a really significant day for Ashford. Not only does this development provide much-needed extra lorry parking, which residents will welcome, but signals the continued improvement in opportunities for business in the area. It is a big step forward.”
Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee unanimously voted to approve the detailed plans for the new truckstop and outline plans for the rest of the site last month (August).
Speaking in the lead up to the ceremony, Council Leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson said: “We are pleased to see this development come forward which will go some way to alleviating the issue of illegal lorry parking in the borough, which has been a blight for our residents for many years.
“By providing improved facilities for lorry drivers this will mean they can have somewhere pleasant to stop and hopefully will ensure our roads, laybys and business parks are kept clear, clean and lorry free in the future.
“This is an issue which won’t go away overnight however. Ashford is doing our bit, but we need a concerted effort from other stakeholders and we hope other local authorities will follow suit to tackle this regional issue.”
Other attendees at Friday’s ceremony included representatives from the Maidstone office of DHA Planning who took the lead on the planning application, and Canterbury-based Clague Architects who worked on the detailed designs for the truckstop and commercial buildings.