Dover District Council (DDC) has welcomed the investment and jobs to be created under plans to establish an Inland Border Facility (IBF) at the White Cliffs Business Park (WCBP) in Dover.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has brought forward the proposals under a Special Development Order (SDO) to facilitate increased border controls from 1 July 2021 following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
At an extraordinary meeting last night (9 February 2021), the Council called for an additional range of mitigation measures against the risk of serious traffic disruption and congestion in the area, along with enhanced environmental measures to protect local residents.
Without major mitigation it was the Council’s view that the proposal would be unacceptable to residents and businesses in the District.
The Council is therefore seeking early reassurance from the Department for Transport on the following issues:
1. Traffic management and impact on local growth
The Inland Border Facility (IBF) will lead to a significant increase in HGV traffic on the M2/A2 and creating traffic management issues on the local road network. In particular, it will exacerbate existing capacity issues at both the A258/A2 Duke of York’s roundabout and the A2/ A256/Sandwich Road roundabout at Whitfield.
The Council has had serious concerns regarding capacity issues at these two junctions for some years in relation to its plans for economic and housing growth. Highways England has also had long standing concerns, as evidenced by their objections to several recent planning proposals.
The Council is seeking Government support to bring forward the following short-term measures as soon as possible to mitigate the effects of the IBF:
- Upgrading of the on and off slip roads to the A256/A2 junction
- Improve the configuration and capacity of the A258/A2 Duke of York’s Roundabout
- Improve the A2/A256/Sandwich Road roundabout at Whitfield
In the longer term, the Council has lobbied for many years for the dualling of the section of the A2 between Lydden and Dover and is again calling for this to be included in the Government’s Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) programme as a matter of urgency to provide resilience to the M20/A20 route.
2. Impact on local residents and the environment
The Council notes the efforts made within the site layout to shield the proposed development from the residential properties to the east, through the provision of buffer zones, additional planting, and other environmental measures.
The Council is concerned, however, that detailed proposals have yet to be presented to the residents most affected. The Council urges, as a matter of urgency, that the Department of Transport engages with residents to address their issues of concern, including noise, light, and air pollution.
The proposed IBF would divert a section of the North Downs Way. Whilst the Council understands the reasons for the diversion of the footpath, there are local concerns that this diversion will become permanent and the opportunity to improve the national trail lost.
The Council is calling for the footpath be restored to its original alignment along the Roman road, in accordance with the current Local Plan, should the IBF cease operation by 31 December 2025, as indicated in the Special Development Order (SDO).
The development of the IBF will inevitably have an impact on the environment to the detriment of the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, and the Council asks that every effort be made to mitigate the impacts identified.
3. Impact on Dover Fastrack and local businesses
The proposed access to the IBF is from the existing B&Q roundabout which also facilitates the proposed Dover Fastrack, linking the development of c.5,750 new homes at Whitfield with a fast bus link to Dover town centre and Dover Priory railway station.
The design of the scheme, which includes bus priority measures, segregated busways, and camera enforcement on sections of the route, was always intended to open-up access to phase three of the White Cliffs Business Park.
The Council is concerned that the volume of traffic generated by the IBF could adversely impact upon the operation of the Dover Fastrack, and indeed on other businesses operating from the White Cliffs Business Park.
Effective plans must be developed for access and egress to the IBF to ensure that queues of HGVs do not obstruct the efficient operation of the Dover Fastrack or queue back onto Honeywood Parkway.
4. Support for local economic growth
The site is designated as employment land within the Local Plan and the Council welcome the investment in infrastructure at the White Cliffs Business Park (WCBP).
Whilst the IBF brings forward some employment opportunities, the Council is keen to work with Government to discuss taking ownership of the site should operations cease in December 2025 in order to take forward its plans for economic growth.
Should use of the site continue beyond 2025, then there would seem to be an opportunity to consolidate HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) activity on this site. This could involve the relocation of the HMRC facility at St Johns Road in Dover which would release that area for re-development.
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, the Leader of Dover District Council, said: “This was a balanced debate with acknowledgement across the Chamber of the challenges of this site.
“We welcome the investment in infrastructure which will support Dover’s role as the UK’s primary trading gateway with Europe, and the jobs which will be created at the site.
“But Council was also resolute that for the Inland Border Facility to work, it must come with new investment in our already over-stretched local and strategic road network.
“The Department for Transport must also pursue all avenues to protect the environment and the amenity of local residents.”