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The Secretary of State Rejects the Kent International Gateway Strategic Rail Freight Interchange Proposal

Craig Howell Williams QC

Kent International Gateway Limited appealed against a decision of Maidstone Borough Council to refuse planning permission for the construction of a rail/road interchange and associated infrastructure and buildings including freight handling equipment, new railway sidings, earthworks and walls, Class B8 warehousing and Class B1 uses, roads and bridges, lorry parking, a sub-station, the realignment of public rights of way and watercourses, drainage works and landscaping on 112 hectares of land adjoining the Ashford to Maidstone east railway line, to the west of the M20 and to the east of Maidstone.

The Secretary of State recovered the appeal and following a public inquiry has accepted his Inspector's conclusion and recommendation and has dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.

The Secretary of State rejected the proposal for a number of reasons, including the loss of a large area of open countryside, substantial harm to the setting of the Kent Downs AONB, serious damage to the attractiveness and value of the public rights of way, failure to preserve or enhance the character of the Bearsted Conservation Area and the cumulative adverse impact on the adjacent settlement of Bearsted. The Secretary of State found that the policy support that the proposal might otherwise enjoy was significantly reduced because of the site's distance from London and the M25 motorway. Moreover, he considered that he could not be reasonably assured that, if permitted, the proposal would in fact function as a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.

Craig Howell Williams QC acted on behalf of Kent County Council in opposition to the proposal.