Neigh­bours ‘shocked and an­gry’ over homes plans

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by James Scott js­cott@thek­m­group.co.uk

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

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