KCC de­fends de­ci­sion to build on farm

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

KENT County Coun­cil has de­fended its de­ci­sion to build on part of the North School farm say­ing it is only fol­low­ing a de­ci­sion agreed in 2007.

County hall ed­u­ca­tion boss Sarah Hohler says that the school agreed to KCC re­duc­ing the size of the de­vel­op­ment in ex­change for the op­por­tu­nity to build on part of the farm.

Mrs Hohler said: “As part of this agree­ment the school was to re­lo­cate the ex­ist­ing tim­ber farm build­ings on to the land that they were re­tain­ing in ad­vance of the land bor­der­ing Es­sella Road be­ing sold for de­vel­op­ment.

“The only thing that has changed in terms of the agree­ment that did save the farm is that to date the school have not re­lo­cated the build­ings. This de­lay is be­cause the firm of con­trac­tors who were to carry out the work has gone into liq­ui­da­tion.”

Be­cause the con­trac­tor folded, the school has lost a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money that would have been used to help move the farm.

The land KCC hope to build on is cur­rently used for pigs and chick­ens and also a small wood­land and an area for grow­ing crops.

Mrs Hohler added: “KCC is work­ing with the school to as­sist it in hon­our­ing its com­mit­ment to the re­lo­ca­tion, or pos­si­ble re­place­ment, of the tim­ber build­ings.”

The Ken­tish Ex­press asked Mrs Hohler what sort of as­sis­tance she would of­fer to help re­lo­cate farm build­ings and the pig en­clo­sure and whether any fi­nan­cial help would be of­fered.

A KCC spokesman said they were wait­ing to hear from the school with re­gards to costs to mov­ing the farm build­ings.

Work­ing with the Ken­tish Ex­press a Face­book group has al­ready at­tracted over 1,700 sup­port­ers, many of whom have signed our on­line pe­ti­tion at www.ken­tish­expr ess.co.uk.

Cam­paign­ers had hoped that be­cause KCC in­cor­rectly stated on its plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion that the site was not an agri­cul­tural hold­ing it might pro­vide some am­mu­ni­tion when it comes be­fore a plan­ning com­mit­tee in March.

The KE con­tacted the Ru­ral Pay­ments Agency which is­sues the hold­ing num­bers but a spokesman told us that an agri­cul­tural hold­ing would not pre­vent the land be­ing sold off to de­vel­op­ers.

Ash­ford MP Damian Green has once again joined the fight for the farm as he did the first time it was threat­ened in 2006.

He said: “Every­one in­volved needs to work to­gether to im­ple­ment the agree­ment made three years ago af­ter the last cam­paign. I will be happy to play a full part in mak­ing this hap­pen, as the sur­vival of the farm is so im­por­tant.”

For spe­cial re­port on the Fight for the Farm cam­paign see pages 34 and 35.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1668021

In­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der way where a young woman was the vic­tim of a se­ri­ous sex­ual as­sault on the God­in­ton Park es­tate

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1666081

Nia Atkin­son with one of the school’s herd of Red Devon cows at North School Farm

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