Extra £200,000 aims to ensure Conningbrook work can start Council commits more cash to country park scheme
firstname.lastname@example.org 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