Neighbours ‘shocked and angry’ over homes plans
MORE than 250 people turned up at a meeting to voice their concerns over council plans to build 1,200 houses and a link road on open land.
Ashford Borough Council has earmarked the land behind Towers School and the playing field at Ashford Hockey Club, off Ball Lane, as potential sites for two 600-home estates.
The proposals, which could include a link road from the A28 Canterbury Road to the A251 Faversham Road, are outlined in the draft Urban Sites and Infrastructure Development Plan Document.
An action group of residents have dubbed their opposition to the plans the Avatar campaign, named after the film in which a group of extraterrestrial beings fight to protect their beautiful homeland from exploitation and destruction.
Their public meeting at Bockhanger Community Centre in Bybrook Road on Saturday attracted scores of residents worried that the road and an additional 1,200 homes would worsen traffic problems and destroy the countryside.
Concerns have also been raised about the loss of habitats for rare birds such as little owls, kingfishers, buzzards, kestrels and goshawks.
Action group leader Winston Michael said: “A lot of people are angry about what is taking place. It’s not that people don’t want houses, it’s a question of choosing a location that is sensitive.”
Fellow campaigner and Ball Lane resident Mark Street said: “People were desperate for information and shocked by the scale of the plans.”
“It was amazing to have 250 people turn up on a Saturday night considering we were up against Britain’s Got Talent. It was a fantastic turn-out.”
County councillor for Ashford Central Elizabeth Tweed, who spoke at the meeting, said: “I don’t think the case is being made for either the road or the houses. I think there are other ways we could mitigate against the volume of traffic.
“My view is that once you damage the countryside it is damaged forever. Let’s develop our brownfield sites around the town first and keep some of these spaces and that lovely green lung for the people who use it.” Council policy manager Simon Cole said the document outlined potential sites to accommodate the town’s growth, meeting a need to create 3,500 new homes by 2021.
He said: “The council is currently assessing sites around the town which could be developed in the future to accommodate the town’s growth.
“The potential sites in Kennington are part of a list of options that are currently being considered by the council for inclusion in the development plan document, but it is important to emphasise no decision has been made on any of the sites.” Mr Cole said plans for the hockey club land had come from the club as it wanted to move to the other side of the A28.
The plans were first exhibited in January and were due to be published last month, but the deadline has been put back until July, when there will be further public consultation.
More than 250 residents attended a public meeting about the proposed developments in Kennington
The land in Kennington where the council plans to build 600 homes
Action group leader Winston Michael