Six-storey building at heart of huge plans for old college site
Lifelong Ashford resident’s petition signed by nearly 500 so far as she asks: How can infrastructure cope?
A NEW town square could be built on the former Brooklands College site in Ashford as part of a 300-plus home development.
Inland Homes, under the guise of Brooklands Helix Developments Ltd, wants to transform the campus into 366 homes as a mixture of one to six-storey buildings on the 10-acre site in Church Road.
The ‘elaborately decorated’ front entrance door of the college would be kept as a feature for a new mini-park as part of the plans, as well as a new town square incorporating shops, and a large public open space.
A hair and beauty academy building will also be built in the town square, which formed part of the agreement when the property developer bought the site from Brooklands College last year.
Mark Gilpin, planning director at Inland Homes, said: “The former Brooklands College site offers an exciting opportunity to rejuvenate Ashford town centre and provide significant benefits for both residents and businesses through the development of new shops, homes and landscaped public spaces.
“We are proposing to create a new Ashford town square surrounded by shops and cafés, publicly-accessible pocket parks, children’s play areas, landscaped garden spaces and a tree-lined boulevard leading to a new public open space.
“Inland has been delighted by the support we received at our two well-attended public consultation events and will continue talking to local people about our plans as they move forwards.”
Life-long Ashford resident Julie Breen is campaigning against the development as she says a six-storey building would ‘not be in keeping with the town’.
She says the current infrastructure would not be able to cope, and pointed to North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group’s announcement last week of the potential closure of the doctors’ surgery at Ashford Hospital. Her petition to ‘stop the six-storey building in Ashford’ has already received backing from 489 people.
“The roads are appalling and already falling to bits and you can’t get through the High Street as it is,” said the 42-year-old.
“Obviously, put new homes in, but not a six-storey building. Three-storey flats would be quite in keeping with the town – something like that. I’m not against progress, but [the developers] need to reconsider what they are putting forward for the town.”
Community group Ashford on the Map declared earlier this year that the 13th annual Summer Fun Day, held in June, would be its last as it would not be able to use the field behind Brooklands College while the development is under construction.
Barry Muggeridge, deputy chairman of Ashford on the Map and chairman of Ashford Pride, said the fun day could be resurrected once work is completed.
“If somebody wants to start it up and carry it on on the site that’s available, then that could be done,” he said.
“But it wouldn’t be under the current committee at the moment.” In 2011, a joint investment
£200,000 by Spelthorne of Borough Council and Surrey County Council paid for a new town square and clock in the High Street.
A further £3,500 was raised by the community to house the town’s Christmas tree in the town square after it had been temporarily placed outside Brooklands College.
Mr Muggeridge said he believes the new development would positively benefit Ashford, although the extra influx of people would put pressure on the doctors’ and dental surgeries.
The proposed new development at the former Brooklands College site in Church Road, Ashford.