Ex­tra £200,000 aims to en­sure Con­ning­brook work can start Coun­cil com­mits more cash to coun­try park scheme

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Waste Collection Latest - By James Scott

js­cott@thek­m­group.co.uk Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil will spend a fur­ther £ 200,000 to en­sure the new Con­ning­brook Lakes coun­try park pro­ject can get un­der way.

The coun­cil’s cabi­net has ap­proved plans to in­ject the fund­ing, on top of £87,000 al­ready spent, to en­able the park to open for walk­ing from au­tumn and for wa­ter sports from next spring.

Port­fo­lio holder Cllr Jes­samy Blan­ford (Con) re­as­sured the coun­cil that the money would be re­im­bursed in de­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions from the Brett Group.

The au­thor­ity stands to re­ceive £3 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions once the ag­gra­vates firm has built 300 pro­posed homes at the side of the lakes, off Willes­bor­ough Road.

Cllr Blan­ford said that any risk of Brett not build­ing the hous­ing was “ex­tremely small”.

Coun­cil leader Cllr Gerry Clark­son (Con) said: “I went round there on a Range Rover and it was a delightful ex­pe­ri­ence, see­ing the wildlife they have with herons and swans and rare but­ter­flies.

“It’s absolutely amaz­ing, the size of it. I have never ac­knowl­edged how large it was. It’s go­ing to be an amaz­ing fa­cil­ity.”

Deputy coun­cil leader Cllr Michael Claughton (Con) said: “This is a hugely ex­cit­ing pro­ject and will bring huge ku­dos to this bor­ough.”

The ma­jor­ity of the money to en­sure early ac­cess, £116,000, will be spent on a tem­po­rary ac­cess road from the Julie Rose Sta­dium, along with se­cu­rity gates and fenc­ing.

The rest will be spent on con­trac­tors’ fees, moor­ing posts, boat launch­ing, dog waste bins, stor­age con­tain­ers, float­ing pon­toons, life belts and other safety equip­ment. Ash­ford coun­cil will also buy a ve­hi­cle for the park ranger so he can reach all parts of the lakes eas­ily.

Later phases of the pro­ject will see the cre­ation of a restau­rant and wa­ter sports cen­tre of­fer­ing a host of sports such as kayak­ing, rowing and sail­ing.

The au­thor­ity, which signed a 500-year-lease with the Brett Group to use the land, has been in dis­cus­sions with Ash­ford Leisure Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust and Mid Kent Fish­eries about the man­age­ment of the park.

It is hoped that mem­bers of the pub­lic will be able to ac­cess and walk around the park as early as Oc­to­ber.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the planned de­vel­op­ment

Cllr Michael Claughton

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