Rifle range is on target to expand despite noise fears
Plans to create an open-air rifle range in Great Chart has been given the go-ahead despite residents’ concerns.
The proposal to build a 50m Olympic size outdoor firing area at the Ashford and District Rifle Range, off Chart Road was unanimously granted permission by councillors at last Wednesday’s Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee meeting.
Members a g r e e d s a f e t y and noise concerns had been addressed and one member, Cllr Stephen Dehnel, even said the new facility would “put Ashford on the map.”
The rifle range, which has more than 100 members, sits within a triangle of land bounded by Chart Road, the A28 and the Great Chart Recreation Ground.
Both the new firing position and the target area will be under cover and the range will be enclosed by a two-metre high wooden fence.
Further noise mitigation measures, including some backstop and noise barrier landscaping within the site, will also be implemented.
Cllr Jessamy Blanford, who told the meeting that she has her own shotgun certificate, said she is delighted the plans went through.
She added: “People who do not know about firearms may feel some anxiety about it but a very high level of safety is required before permission is given.
“This range will allow the club to carry out training to Olympic standards. I feel this will benefit the borough and will not adversely affect residents.”
However, the rifle club’s plans had created controversy among nearby residents and attracted 70 objection letters.
A group of residents attended the planning meeting to oppose the proposals.
Gerald McHugh, who spoke on behalf of the group, said: “It is particularly disappointing that, despite the objections, our ward councillors supported the application. So much for representing the views of your parishioners.
“Apparently we won’t notice the noise, but if the noise is not impactful then why do they wear ear defenders?
“The opening hours should be more restrictive, there will be no respite from the noise, and the issue of safety remains a major concern. If there is a safety related incident on the visitors of Great Chart playing field, insurance will be of no consequence to the family of an injured party.”
A spokesman for the Ashford and District Rifle Club said the plans are safe and compliant with requirements.
She added: “As an active and competitive club we are pleased planning officers granted permission to extend this popular club.”
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Ashford and District Rifle Range is planning to build a 50m firing range
The rifle range will allow the club to carry out training to Olympic standards
SUPPORT: Stephen Dehnel
SUPPORT: Jessamy Blanford