A 1200 capacity Brexit border park at Dover, is expected to be delivered by County Hall.
The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to build the customs facility at the White Cliffs Business Park at Whitfield for import checks on goods like animal feed.
If agreed by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick next month Kent County Council (KCC) has been asked to manage the works but the plans have faced strong opposition from councillors after the delivery was narrowly approved, six votes to five, at a virtual KCC meeting last week.
KCC’s corporate director for transport, Simon Jones, said any development would be “sensitively” built to consider the potential impact on residents at Guston.
He told councillors: “By doing this work it will give us greater opportunity to make sure things are done sensitively with the community. We can include things to soften its impact. We will be nothing other than the builder.”
Opposition councillors criticised the move during the Microsoft Teams virtual meeting of KCC’s transport committee.
KCC’s Green party leader, Cllr Martin Whybrow objected to the DfT acting as a “law unto itself” and the “undemocratic” nature of the proposals.
He added: “I think the communities in this area have been ridden over rough shod frankly and receiving a letter on New Year’s Eve to basically say ‘this is what is coming you are way.”
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab) said: “We used to live in the Garden of England now we live in the Garage of England.”
If granted, KCC will receive government cash to cover the costs and will have to hire a senior project manager, consultants, site supervision officers and admin support.
The cost will be similar to Ashford’s Sevington customs checkpoint at junction 10a of the M20 – around £6million. The county council would also create a new site entrance, link road and the actual building of the customs area.
Dover county councillor Trevor Bond (Con), reluctantly supported the decision hoping KCC can “at least minimise the damage to locals” who fear they’ll be ‘caged in’ by lorries and noise 24-7.
Meanwhile, Cllr Michael Payne (Con), who is KCC’s cabinet member for highways, said the decision was simply a “technical” one.
He said: “It’s about how KCC manage the works on behalf of the DfT as it has been successfully undertaken in a similar way at Sevington.”
Speaking to the panel, he added: “I think the communities in this area have been ridden over rough shod frankly and receiving a letter on New Year’s Eve to basically say ‘this is what is coming you are way.”
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