Ri­fle range is on tar­get to ex­pand de­spite noise fears

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Southeastern Survey - By Vicky Cas­tle

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.”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

Pic­ture: Matt Bris­tow FM4038764

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

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