Volterra partner Ellie Evans was recently an expert witness at a planning inquiry into the Gallagher Group’s proposals to create an industrial and warehouse development, Waterside Park, at Junction 8 of the M20 in Maidstone, Kent. Ellie’s evidence on the economic benefits of the scheme – which had previously been refused planning permission by Maidstone Borough Council and was therefore the subject of an appeal – was unchallenged by any of the opposing parties. Ellie’s evidence showed that the borough had underestimated demand for industrial land and over-estimated the availability and suitability of alternative sites for development. She expressed her opinion, supported by previous analysis commissioned by the borough council, that there is both a qualitative and quantitative need for additional employment land within the borough of Maidstone, and expressed concern that without this capacity economic growth would be hindered and the borough would continue to fall behind the wider region. The inquiry has been in the news again this week due to the controversial announcement that Maidstone Council have now adopted a new Economic Development Strategy which specifies the need to allocate the land at Junction 8 for employment use ahead of the planning inspector’s decision, thereby seemingly contradicting their arguments against the development. Read news coverage of the inquiry here and this week’s developments here.