Updated: 9:50am (11/07/20)
It has been annouced earlier today the government has secretly purchased 11 hectares (27 acres) of land on the outskirts of Ashford (next to Junction 10A) from Aviva Life & Pensions UK Ltd for an undisclosed sum. The title deed is still showing the land as owned by Aviva as of today 10 July.
The title deed also shows that as far back as March 2006, the Department of Transport had an option on the land to purchase it at some later date. The fact they took up the option isn’t really surprising or shocking at all.
The site pictured below, is approx 20 miles from Dover and will host a new Brexit customs clearance centre for the 10,000 lorries that come through the Kent port from Calais every day.
Ashford Borough council were given very short notice of the deal, more likely than not due to the commercial sensitivity.
Cllr Paul Bartlett (pictured) of ABC; and the ward Cllr, posted a letter earlier today from Rachel Maclean, MP and parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport. The letter starts by saying:
We are writing to inform you that the Department of Transport has purchased the site known as ‘MOJO’ (Church Road, Sevington Ashford). Preliminary works are scheduled to take place on the western parcel from Monday 13 July 2020, this will include: securing the site with fencing, grass and weed vegetation cutting, extensive survey work, the constructing of a temporary site office, and the constructing of a temporary access to the site from the A2070 link road.
The letter goes onto say:
Plans have not yet been finalised for the use of this site but is anticipated to form part of the Department’s strategy to minimise potential disruption at Kent Ports for the end of the Transition Period. This is likely to involve temporary capacity for the holding of delayed HGVs and facilities for border-related controls to be carried out by Government Agencies (e.g. HM Revenue and Customs). More detailed information will be provided in due course.
Work will begin on fencing off the vast 1.2m square foot “Mojo” site on the outskirts of Ashford on Monday 13th July.
Cllr Bartlett said earlier today that residents have known the area had been earmarked for development from 2005 onwards; and he “cautiously welcomed” the news as the “uncertainty for residents has been put to bed“.
He also see’s it as an “opportunity for skilled jobs” what with the downturn in the economy due to covid-19. He went onto say with a “car park for 200 cars, and shift patterns it may well create in excess of 400 skilled jobs.“
However, another Ashford Borough Councillor who does not wish to be named said:
“It’s another Disney sized lorry park like the one proposed at Stanford previously. The proposed customs clearance area will definitely cause congestion on the motorways and A roads in the surrounding area, leading to misery for many. Add in the traffic from the Eurotunnel freight in nearby Folkestone, that’s a recipe for deteriorating air quality.“
The emergency purchase of the site is expected to be unveiled on Sunday by Michael Gove, who is to tour TV studios publicising the government’s multi-million-pound Get Ready for Brexit campaign.
The Shepwayvox Team
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