Flats plan ‘would be road to ruin’

AN­GRY RE­AC­TION: Queen Street res­i­dents against con­ver­sion of home

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Nick Cullen

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.

Mul­ti­ple prop­er­ties

“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.”

Pic­ture Dave Downey pd1208809 Buy this pic­ture from ken­ton­line.co.uk

Queen Street res­i­dents who are protest­ing about homes be­ing de­vel­oped into flats

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