Ash­ford ‘may not be right for growth’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FAMILY ANNOUNCEMENTS - by Nick Cullen and Kier Humphreys

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.

Ques­tion

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.

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