Ashford ‘may not be right for growth’
ASHFORD may not be the best place for housing growth, according to an official report on government housing policy published this week.
The 118-page paper, entitled Building Houses Or Creating Communities?, was published by the Sustainable Development Commission, an independent group with powers to act as a watchdog on government policy.
It is the first official investigation into the Government’s housing policy for England and looks at Ashford alongside the other designated growth areas in the Thames Gateway, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
Commissioners Alice Owen and Rebecca Willis call for the Government to increase the minimum density for developments to 50 homes per hectare and concentrate on town centres.
The majority of the development in Ashford will take place in the so-called ‘urban villages’ of Cheeseman’s Green, Chilmington and Kingsnorth.
It is on this basis that the commissioners call the growth plans for the town into question.
Ashford Borough Council leader Cllr Paul Clokie, who had not heard about the report when questioned on Tuesday, defended the density of proposed developments.
He said: “We are planning to put together some 3,500 units of development within the town centre.”
He said developments in Ashford tend to have a density of between 15 and 30 homes per hectare and said he thought this was high enough.
“I can assure you that if some of these developments get built, people will think there are quite enough people in Ashford,” Cllr Clokie added.