Council builds Brexit lorry park in Portsmouth without planning permission ‘because of government chaos’
CONSTRUCTION on a £600,000 Brexit lorry park in Portsmouth went ahead without planning permission due to Westminster 'chaos', the council has confirmed.
The Tipner West site of the M275 was planned as a holding space for lorries without the correct paperwork in the case of a no-deal Brexit and with March 29 looming the park is nearing completion.
But unlike other council developments work started without permission or a consultation with nearby residents.
Portsmouth City Council leader Councilor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'The government has completely failed us.
'It looked more and more likely that there was going to be a no-deal Brexit and we had to prepare for that.
'We waited as long as possible to avoid spending that money but we had to be prepared to guard against traffic chaos in the city. We could not afford for the city to become gridlocked.'
He added: 'It's going to cost £4m for Brexit preperations in Portsmouth and that's money that could have been spent on things like schools.'
Martin Lavers, the council's assistant director for infrastructure, explained why work started so quickly. 'West Tipner provided the best option at short notice,' he said.
'We had to act quickly to prepare for a no-deal, and have been engaging with businesses wherever possible.
'After taking advice from the local planning authority we will be applying for retrospective planning permission for the use of the site known as W4. Due to the time scales involved in implementing the contingency plan for exiting the EU without a deal it was necessary to start work before their final advice was available.'
But for local resident and chair of the Tipner and Stamshaw Neighbourhood Forum, John Cass, this wasn't acceptable.
'The fact that they haven't received any planning permission for it and are just going to have to apply for permission afterwards shows they think they can just get in there and do whatever they want,' he said.
'Everyone else would have to get permission first and wouldn't be able to get away with that.
'What will the impact of all these lorries be on the people who live nearby?
'They haven't thought we want to get residents happy or in the loop. They just haven't bothered.'
The lorry park will be finished by March 29, whether or not the Brexit date is pushed back.
Planning portfolio holder at the council, Cllr Ben Dowling, said. 'Good progress has been made over recent weeks and we are on schedule to complete the construction of the temporary check point next week.
'We are anticipating the total cost of construction to be about £600,000 - which is significantly less than the £1.5m budgeted. We are continuing to put pressure on the government to secure additional funding.'