Affordable homes target too low, say councillors
Call for changes to borough council’s development plan Breakdown of major sites
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