Af­ford­able homes tar­get too low, say coun­cil­lors

Call for changes to bor­ough coun­cil’s de­vel­op­ment plan Break­down of ma­jor sites

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - By Vicky Cas­tle

Some Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil­lors (ABC) are wor­ried about the “com­plete lack” of af­ford­able housing planned for the town in the draft Local Plan.

The bor­ough is set to gain 12,000 new houses as part of the de­vel­op­ment strat­egy up to 2030, but coun­cil­lors have said they are con­cerned very few of those are af­ford­able.

Cllr Paul Bartlett, mem­ber for Kingsnorth Vil­lage, Mer­sham and Sev­ing­ton, voiced his con­cerns at a Cabi­net meet­ing last Thurs­day.

He said: “There are three key is­sues with the plan that need to be ad­dressed as quickly as pos­si­ble: HGV move­ments, air qual­ity and af­ford­able housing.

“This coun­cil agreed that 45% of new de­vel­op­ment should be af­ford­able, and this plan falls far short of that.

“There needs to be a more con­sid­ered ap­proach.”

The 296-page draft Local Plan has ear­marked sites right across the bor­ough, from Ken­ning­ton in the north west to Chilm­ing­ton Green in the south.

The vi­sion has been set out by ABC’s head of plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment, Si­mon Cole, who wrote in the re­port that af­ford­able housing is not “vi­able”.

He wrote: “Seek­ing to meet the 45% of the Ob­jec­tively As­sessed Housing Need fig­ure that the Strate­gic Housing Mar­ket As­sess­ment (SHMA) indi­cates is ‘af­ford­able housing need’ would not be vi­able as a pol­icy re­quire­ment and would ren­der res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in the bor­ough un­de­liv­er­able.

“In or­der to fully meet the af­ford­able housing re­quire­ments iden­ti­fied, the SHMA through- site al­lo­ca­tions would ne­ces­si­tate an in­crease in the housing tar­get of over 6,000 dwellings.”

Cabi­net com­mit­tee mem­bers briefly dis­cussed the plans be­fore coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously agreed to ap­prove the rec­om­men­da­tions.

The huge plan is now out on an eight-week pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, al­low­ing res­i­dents, busi­nesses and com­mu­nity groups to share their com­ments.

ABC leader Cllr Gerry Clark­son urged res­i­dents to look closely at the plans, read about the pro­pos­als for their ar­eas, and take an ac­tive part in the con­sul­ta­tion.

He said: “It is go­ing to con­sul­ta­tion for a longer pe­riod than we are stat­u­ary re­quired to con­sult – eight weeks rather than six – and we are urg­ing peo­ple to use this time wisely.

“We need a plan that’s sus­tain­able, ro­bust, can stand up to scru­tiny, and we want this plan to be as per­fect as we can get it.

“We are blessed with the ru­ral town of Ten­ter­den and the ru­ral town of Ash­ford.

“We have all th­ese won­der­ful vil­lages, and the last thing we want to do is to dam­age those.”

Cllr Jim Wedg­bury, mem­ber for Park Farm South, said clear de­vel­op­ment plans for the bor­ough were crit­i­cal.

He said: “If we do not have a sound local plan the de­vel­op­ers will have a free-for-all.

“It’s vi­tally im­por­tant that we have got pro­pos­als and good ideas on this local plan to pro­tect the bor­ough from the wrong de­vel­op­ment.” The Local Plan 2030 will pro­vide the frame­work for plan­ning de­ci­sions in the next 14 years. It will re­place ex­ist­ing strate­gies for the ex­pan­sion of Ash­ford, with the ex­cep­tion of the Chilm­ing­ton Green Ac­tion Plan, where 6,000 homes will be built. Sites in­clude: In Ken­ning­ton, land to the west of Trin­ity Road stretch­ing as far as Sandy­hurst Lane has been pen­cilled in for up to 300 homes

Off Willes­bor­ough Road, 700 homes have been al­lo­cated for the con­tro­ver­sial ‘Big Bur­ton’ es­tate

The ex­pan­sion along the A2070 con­tin­ues with a fur­ther 120 homes planned to the Con­ning­brook Lakes de­vel­op­ment

At Willes­bor­ough Lees there are plans for 200 homes south of the Wil­liam Har­vey Hospi­tal

South east of Ash­ford there are plans for 300 new homes at Water­brook, which will link with the 1,200 homes planned at Fin­berry

At Kingsnorth, there could be 320 new homes on land at Steeds Lane and Bond Lane and a fur­ther 100 homes in Pound Lane

The largest new es­tate is pro­posed at Court Lodge Farm, where 950 homes could be built along­side a new com­mu­nity cen­tre with shops, a meet­ing hall and a two-form en­try pri­mary school.

See www.ash­ford.gov.uk/ con­sul­ta­tions

‘The coun­cil agreed 45% of new de­vel­op­ment should be af­ford­able. The plan falls far short of that’

Paul Bartlett ex­pressed con­cern about a short­age of af­ford­able homes, while Jim Wedg­bury warned against the ‘wrong’ type of de­vel­op­ment

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