Kent to Provide Better Facilities for HGV Drivers

Picture by Marcin Jozwiak: marcin-jozwiak-kGoPcmpPT7c-unsplash.jpg; used with permission

Treating HGV Drivers In Kent To the Facilities They Need

The planning application for Waterbrook Park, near the new Sevington lorry park, has now been submitted. From what we can see there, at last Kent is going to treat HGV drivers to the facilities they need and deserve.

There has been antagonism for a number of years; really, ever since the motorways began to spread, cutting across the green and pleasant land of Kent, with ever more gigantic lorries bearing trade goods to and from the Continent.

The problem was especially acute each time there was a cross-Channel traffic blockage on the M20. The most notorious was in 2018, when lorries tried to divert into country lanes and villages that just cannot take their size. Every so often a foolish lorry driver tries to drive through Goudhurst, and gets stuck in the right angle by the church.

More recently, Mersham villagers have been complaining that Google Maps is misdirecting lorries into their village rather than through the correct entrance to the new Sevington Park.

No (Room At the) Inn

The haulage industry has long been complaining about the lack of facilities for drivers to park and rest. Internationally agreed rules about drivers’ hours mean that a driver has to stop and park once the quota of hours is up. This can happen for all sorts of reasons, such as traffic jams at the delivery point and gate closures there.

Where is a driver to go then? Some sneak off the motorway into lay-bys. KCC then slaps a fine on such vehicles. The County Council also encourages vigilante groups to report HGVs which try to find routes off the motorway.

There is such a lack of roadside toilets for drivers through Kent that drivers reportedly relieve themselves by peeing in a bottle in the cab.

No Table d’Hôte

If they feel hungry, where do they park to buy food? There are many fast food outlets, in Ashford for example. But the routes to them and the parking is impossible for drivers of huge HGVs.

When we were scoping out Sevington to report on the new park there last August, there was a lone pedestrian with a rucksack who passed us. Ten minutes later he came back looking rueful, and asked us in accented English the quickest way to the Tesco superstore. This is at least a 20-minute walk from Waterbrook, where he had left his lorry. I noted at the time that there were obviously no facilities there for drivers to buy food.

New Proposals for HGV drivers…

Not for much longer. This is what is now planned for Waterbrook:

“Waterbrook Park, Waterbrook Avenue, Sevington, Kent
Reserved matters application to consider access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale pursuant to outline planning permission 18/00098/AS (Hybrid planning application for mixed-use development comprising:

(1) Application for full planning permission for the construction and operation of a 600-space truck stop; a 2 162m2 GIA service building providing 1 734m2 GIA of ancillary truck stop service facilities and 878m2 GIA of B1 offices; buildings providing 6 308m2 GIA B1 (b and c only), B2 and B8 floorspace for small and medium enterprises; associated access, parking and landscaping, including highway infrastructure works to Waterbrook Avenue and;

(2) Application for outline planning permission (with all matters reserved) for 8.9ha of employment uses comprising uses falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8, a class A1 superstore of up to 2 323m2, drive-through restaurants (use classes A3/A5), a petrol filling station and ancillary convenience store, and car showrooms (sui generis); and up to 400 residential dwellings, with class A1, A3 and A5 neighbourhood retail uses, associated drainage, parking, landscaping and infrastructure) for the development of 400 dwellings, a community / café / deli / workspace hub, landscaping, open space, drainage, parking and other associated infrastructure”

Ashford Borough Council – Report of the Head of Development Management and
Strategic Sites – Planning Committee

…For a New Community

So a 600-space truck stop with ancillary truck stop facilities (toilets and showers, presumably). A petrol station plus convenience store. A supermarket, drive-through restaurant, 400 houses, and a business park for workshops – in fact, a new village alongside Finberry.

So that’s okay then. At last Kent is being kinder to lorry drivers. Maybe even some more drivers might sign on, and the worries about empty supermarket shelves will cease.