Dover District Council 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, but has called for government action to tackle infrastructure issues in the area.
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 held this week, 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.
It was the council’s view that without major mitigation, the proposal would be unacceptable to residents and businesses in the district.
The council is seeking early reassurance from the DfT on the following issues:
Traffic management and impact on local growth
Dover District 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 is calling for the dualling of the section of the A2 between Lydden and Dover and is 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.
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.
However, they are concerned that detailed proposals have yet to be presented to the residents most affected and have urged, as a matter of urgency, that DfT engages with residents to address their issues of concern, including noise, light, and air pollution.
The council has said that the development of the IBF will have an impact on the environment, which will be to the detriment of Dover District Council’s Climate Change Strategy and asks that every effort be made to mitigate the impacts identified.
Impact on Dover Fastrack and local businesses
The proposed access to the IBF is from an existing roundabout which also facilitates the proposed Dover Fastrack, linking the development of some 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 WCBP.
However, the council is concerned that the volume of traffic generated by the IBF could adversely impact upon the operation of the Dover Fastrack, as well as on other businesses operating from the WCBP.
They are therefore calling for effective plans to be developed for the access and exit to the IBF in order to ensure that queues of HGVs do not obstruct the efficient operation of the Dover Fastrack or lead to queueing onto Honeywood Parkway.
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 WCBP.
The council is keen to work with the 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, the council believes there would be an opportunity to consolidate HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) activity on this site, which could involve the relocation of the HMRC facility at St Johns Road in Dover, which would release that area for redevelopment.
Commenting, the Leader of Dover District Council, Councillor Trevor Bartlett 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.”