Flats plan ‘would be road to ruin’
ANGRY REACTION: Queen Street residents against conversion of home
RESIDENTS of one of Ashford town centre’s few remaining historic streets are objecting to a development they say will wreck the character of the area.
The owner of a 19th century terraced house at 13 Queen Street wants to convert it into three flats, making the ground floor and attic separate apartments.
Neighbours say if planning permission is granted, it will mark a change in housing policy on the part of the council, which in the past has blocked such applications in what is a conservation area.
Sharon Harvey, who lives in the house next door, said: “A number of the residents are very concerned about this. What it indicates is a shift in Ashford Borough Council policy on housing.
“Theoretically we are not supposed to be building. This is a preservation area.”
Mrs Harvey is critical of what she sees as a lack of transparency in the planning process.
In her letter of objection to the proposal, she states: “It signifies a significant U-turn on a number of policies by Ashford council, although none of the residents on the street have been informed of these policy changes.
“This lack of consultation and transparency on the part of Ashford Bor- ough Council is unacceptable.”
Residents insist the matter should be brought before the council’s full planning committee, rather than just decided by officers.
In his letter of objection to the council, Peter Rose, another neighbour, said residents of the street were united against the application.
He said: “Of those engaged in the discussions, which included representatives from about 75 per cent of the households in Queen Street, there was unanimous agreement that this was a totally unacceptable proposal.
“Three of those involved are themselves owners of multiple properties, but feel that this proposal is the act of a greedy developer prepared to break-up a community and destroy the character of a protected conservation area for a short-term return.”
Martin Vink, the council’s development control manager, said: “Most minor planning applications, around 90 per cent the council receive, are delegated to the development control manager to either grant or refuse.
“A decision has not been made yet about whether this application should be determined by officers or by the Planning Committee.
“A decision on this application is expected in early June.”
Queen Street residents who are protesting about homes being developed into flats