Prime land must be saved from homes
Your article (Can our town take another 700 homes? KE, January 29) did not question why Ashford Borough Council (ABC) should wade back into these very sensitive sites when they were previously closed from development. Readers may recall that previous attempts to develop these and other sites led to a groundswell of opposition from hundreds of local residents with a high profile campaign across both national and local media putting proposals under intense scrutiny.
The Planning Inspectorate reinforced the then council leader’s public dropping of these sites because of the significant intrusion into open countryside outside of the built part of Willesborough Lees, the loss of the highest grade agricultural land, and the negative impact upon the surrounding countryside and adjoining Conservation area. Chilmington Green began as a proposal, so residents should not be fooled into thinking it can be dropped later as the housing number to find elsewhere makes consideration far too late in the process. With ABC needing 4,400 homes from the 25,000 plus submitted there is plenty of other suitable and less damaging land available so Kennington sites are not needed. High grade land classification should have expelled them from the beginning. Following the Inspectorate dismissal, Bovis publicly announced they would no longer pursue, so what encouraged them to resubmit.
Is 750 homes the tip of the iceberg and thousands the more likely scenario once these sites set the precedent?
Residents see similarities with the biggest planning fiasco that took place at Wye several years ago when ABC was forced to reverse proposals under the threat of a judicial review. The book “Saved” gave the inside story on one of the biggest environmental campaigns and exposed how big business aided and encouraged by local borough and county representatives misled the public. The impact goes beyond Kennington for the district at large because releasing the highest grade agricultural land will effectively mean it is “developer” open season on Ashford, and no patch of green land is safe from development.
Government placed great importance on increasing food production over foreign imports because of the expected population increase and that is why policy enshrines preserving the best land. So why is Ashford going against sound directives?
Council leaders should be left in no doubt residents want these sites dropped now and are prepared to take direct action. Kennington Community Forum should be at the forefront of this so why is their voice nowhere to be heard? Residents wonder whether a deal was struck with council leaders in order to obtain “parishing”, especially because council leadership surprisingly overturned the appointed council committee decision.
Anyone taking in the views of the magnificent countryside and the Wye Crown will understand why the area is so special and justifies preserving for the enjoyment of all Ashford; and as a matter of decency, integrity, and selfrespect council should drop them now. Winston Michael, Ashford Independent councillor for Boughton Aluph and Eastwell
Your report about the proposed development as the large Burton Farm Estate (which has long been in the local plan) is only a part of the scenario, because on top of this 700 houses, another few hundred homes are scheduled to be built on the other side of the railway line at Conningbrook Lakes, which would only place an even greater strain onto an already potentially overloaded infrastructure.
A council spokesman said that it is just speculation at this stage - oh yeah! Ted Prangnell Kennington
The Large Burton Estate plan is yet another example of an area already under planning development now coming as an ‘apparent surprise’ to both the public and the media.
There is no problem with folk arguing their corner over any development, but the KE reports sparks flying now, in 2016. The sparks should have been flying in 2005. A section of the development map taken from page 191 of The Greater Ashford Devlopment Framework (published in 2005), clearly shows this very site was destined for development (along with junction 10A).
Central Government has recorded Ashford as a major development town since 2003. Under these circumstances every member of the population needs to be aware of what is planned. The information is readily available from ABC, and without checking it any resident is at risk of suffering an ‘apparent surprise’. Another ’apparent surprise’ occurred over the development at Chilmington Green.
It can be guaranteed that there will be many more such ‘surprises’ in the future. Ian Wolverson Chilmington Green
With regards to your article on the schools to be built at Chilmington Green, on the one hand people and councillors are up in arms about the Large Burton estate but building permission has been given to destroy the beauty and wildlife of Chilmington. Our country roads will be destroyed and light pollution in the surrounding areas will ruin the tranquil haven for wildlife and for those who do not wish to be in the middle of everything.
The reason people move to the area is for peace, rest, nature preservation and a way of life which the council sees fit to destroy with yet more houses.
Only brownfield sites should be used in our already sprawling messy misfit town. I’m horrified that these officials see fit to destroy yet more of England’s Garden of Eden. It’s more like adumping ground. Shame on you. Wendy Greenway, Shadoxhurst
Kennington residents are once again baffled by Ashford Borough Council’s perverse determination to develop the village into nothing short of a small city - but without any of the associated infrastructure.
Once again the council appears to be welcoming developer proposals for a huge housing estate in the area despite:
The uncertain future of the A&E department at the William Harvey Hospital
Excessive demand for existing school places that means parents already struggle to achieve their first choice
A strain on local healthcare services leading to longer waiting times
A road system which is struggling to cope with extra traffic And all of this follows:
A huge protest from local communities
A decision by a previous council leader not to build on these sites
A rejection of the same sites by the Planning Inspectorate three years ago as they were deemed to be Grade 1 agricultural land
Can someone please tell me what is going on? Mark Street Kennington
The prospect of building 700 homes in Kennington without any additional infrastructure is a significant concern. Alongside the Chilmington Green development we will not only see new schools, a high street and other services, but also much needed upgrades to roads into Ashford town centre.
And while in recent years we have seen a new much needed relief route to the South of the town – Victoria Way there doesn’t currently appear to be any such plans to the north of the town, despite ever worse congestion and numerous accidents on Canterbury Road, a residential route.
Is it not time to consider urgently a new road from the Conningbrook roundabout into the town via the Henwood Estate as well as an upgrade to public transport in the area? Simon Jowers Ashford
I moved to Ashford some years ago now,
I am somewhat concerned about Ashford’s expansion and the impact it will have on local roads and services.
I signed the petition against the Chilmington Green developement, on the grounds of the impact on local roads, which at certain times of the day will make them one big traffic jam.
With the new proposals for the Large Burton estate, I feel things will get much much worse.
There will be more road traffic to and from the M20 junction 10, which will have an impact and ambulances accessing the William Harvey Hospital, putting lives at risk.
I strongly believe that Ashford Borough Council is only interested in council tax revenues. More development in Ashford will have dramatic implications on existing local residents.
I have lived in Singleton for some years now and have seen more traffic on the local roads since the Singleton Hill development. The A28 is at a standstill from 8am to 9am on weekday mornings leading to the M20 and will get much, much worse once Chilmington Green is developed, with no proposals for new roads to and from the M20. Andrew Wood Singleton