Ashford Borough Council is consulting on proposals to redevelop Oakleigh House sheltered housing in Beaver Lane. The propsals include the demolition of the adjacent block of flats and development of the grass area between Watercress Lane and Cross Stile.
This is a genuine consultation. This is the first of two opportunities you will have to comment on the proposals that we have for this area.
Stage 1. As a housing service ABC hold a pre-planning consultation event (in this case due to present restrictions they are holding an online consultation). The aim is to identify the thoughts and/or concerns of the local community. They take these views very seriously and ask for your honest feedback.
Stage 2. ABC then take these comments into consideration and adapt the proposals before they are submitted to the council’s planning committee. They then go through the planning process as any applicant does. You will have a second, more formal opportunity to give your thoughts on the planning application at this stage. The council’s housing team does not have the right to appeal the planning decision.
ABC are providing:
- This text as an introduction as to why they are looking to redevelop Oakleigh House
- A short video produced by the architects PRP that explains the proposals in greater detail
- A separate document that shows the slides from the video presentation
- A questionnaire that provides you with an opportunity to express your views on the plans and to ask questions of the council officers and architects involved in the proposals
The overall picture
By 2023 it is expected that 23% of Ashford residents will be aged 65 or over. Therefore the council is preparing for the needs of an ageing population by building and remodelling accommodation for older people to live more independently in homes that are the right size for their needs.
There are currently around 1,350 people on the Ashford Borough Council’s waiting list for affordable housing. Many of these people are older people who depend on affordable housing and need somewhere to live that is more suitable for their needs. Throughout the pandemic the government has prioritised construction as an essential industry, ensuring that there remains a national focus on delivering good quality council housing. Like every other authority in the country, we must do our bit to try and alleviate the housing issues that we face.
In response Ashford Borough Council (ABC) is looking to redevelop Oakleigh House. The current proposal will involve the demolition of the adjacent ‘star block’ comprising 1 – 17 Watercress Lane
Oakleigh House Redevelopment
The council now owns all of the units within the area marked on the map and wants to look at re-providing an improved scheme in the area. The old Oakleigh House was on different levels, with long and dark corridors
Oakleigh House – the background
Oakleigh House was built in the 1970s. It comprised 32 units – 20 of which were one-bedroom accommodation and 12 of which were bedsits.
Oakleigh House as it currently stands is a tired old building, which looks uninspiring. Inside, it had become dated and tough to maintain. Though it was fit for purpose when it was constructed, its best days were behind it – the building was a maze of narrow, dark corridors and on different levels, which is not ideal for those with mobility impairments. The residents of Oakleigh moved out late last year, after we discussed with them proposals to pull down the existing structure and replace it with a brand new building that met the needs of older people in the 21st century.
The other thing about Oakleigh House is that it does not make the best use of the ‘footprint’ of land on which it sits. The video and images that accompany this consultation show that the expanse of land that the council owns could be better used to deliver a bigger scheme that would be a real asset to the area, possibly featuring community space. To make the best use of the land available ABC need to look at the ‘star block’ adjacent to the Oakleigh House building.
The ‘star block’
The council owns all of the properties in the star block (so called as from above it looks a little like a star) and recently served a notice to the residents in the flats in that block in Watercress Lane to say that they no longer had the right to buy their homes if they wanted to do so. This is because the council is looking to rehouse those in the block to other council-owned accommodation and then seek to build a larger independent living scheme for older people on the land that the old Oakleigh House and the star block currently sit on.
ABC have written to the residents in the block. Residents in the block will no doubt have questions about what happens next for them. They have tried to answer these questions. If you are a resident of Watercress Lane, please read our FAQs.
The land opposite the star block
The smaller patch of land opposite the star block (the other side of Watercress Lane) is also something that the council is looking into using as a possibility for this development. At Farrow Court, also in South Ashford, the older persons’ accommodation is joined by some accommodation for those living with learning disabilities. Cherry Tree Court is a very successful scheme, offering the chance of independent living to many. ABC are seeking to replicate this type of scheme on the smaller patch of land opposite Watercress Lane.
Oakleigh House – the proposals
Therefore the proposal is to replace the existing structures and build in their place a brand new scheme that will contain 69 dwellings:
- 51 independent apartments for older people (36 x 1 bedroom and 15 x 2 bedroom)
- 3 independent cottages (all 1 bedroom)
- 15 independent apartments for adults with learning disabilities (14 x 1 bedroom and 1 x 2 bedroom)
The existing structure of the old building, which residents left late in 2019, need to be demolished. We will also need to move residents in the star block to alternative accommodation and demolish that structure too. While there will be some dust and noise, the area will be hoarded off and planning consent for the demolition will strictly control what we can do. Methods will be used to keep the amount of dust down. These are standard practices on sites and we will of course be using specialist contractors to undertake this work.
There will be an extensive survey of the ground undertaken before any demolition begins and hazardous material in the ground will be removed first by a qualified contractor. Demolition is always reported to the Health and Safety Executive, who will be aware of, and will regulate, the work on the site.
During the demolition and construction phases of the project ABC will be mindful of the close proximity of Beaver Lane and Cross Stile to the proposed site and will be paying particular attention to minimising disruption to all in those roads. The council will be signing up to the considerate constructors’ scheme to ensure that it adheres to the requirements and minimises the impacts on all residents.
A scheme like Farrow Court
You may well have heard of Farrow Court, which is the council’s £17m flagship sheltered housing scheme just down the road from the Oakleigh House site. It is the intention that Oakleigh House will be affiliated to Farrow Court, and will tap into the services that are available there for residents and the local community. More than that, however, Oakleigh house is also intended to have a community space in it that will be for the benefit of local community groups.
The proposals designed by architects PRP, who designed the award winning scheme at Farrow Court, are put forward for consultation. These plans see a good quality design using good quality materials, which will add to the look and feel of the area.
The building proposed is a tall building but there are other three-storey buildings in the area and there will be no sight line issues on the junctions for motorists. Planners will take into account the size and scale of the building during the planning process and the proposal to make use of the separate patch of grass currently opposite the star block. The views of those in nearby properties, and other practical aspects such as parking arrangements, have been considered by the designers in arriving at this point.
The proposals will also mean that there will be fresh residents making use of the local amenities, services and shops.
It is appreciated that residents will be concerned about parking. During the works, Abc will be working with contractors to ensure that there is minimal impact on the local roads during this time.
Once the construction phase has finished, through the application process, the requirements of the planning department will ensure that there is adequate parking on site. Extensive knowledge of independent living schemes and other independent living schemes in the borough will be applied to ensure that the parking provision is appropriate.
ABC anticipate at this stage that, subject to obtaining the relevant planning permissions, work would begin on site within a year and that the project will be completed within two-to-three years.
Further information and respond
Please visit https://www.ashford.gov.uk/your-community/consultations/ and learn more about the proposals and to ask questions of the council officers and architects involved in the scheme.
If you have a question please submit it as part of your response.
You are then asked to complete the survey. If you have raised any questions that require feedback then ABC will come back to you.
The closing date to complete the survey is Monday 17 August 2020. Please submit your response by this date.
Ashford Borough Council (ABC) is the data controller for the personal information you provide in this form. ABC’s Data Protection Officer can be contacted at FOI@ashford.gov.uk. Your information will be used to inform Local Plan consultations and processing is being conducted relying upon the public interest legal basis under the Town and Country Planning Act. Given the statutory status of the Local Plan, relevant regulations, and the public interest in making information on the Local Plan consultation available, it is appropriate for us to make a wide range of information and documents available on our website. Conversely, however, there is no wider duty or need to disclose information other than that which is statutory. Your telephone number and/or email address will not be published. Your information may be retained and used for further consultation and therefore records will be retained permanently. For more information on your rights please see the council’s privacy statement https://www.ashford.gov.uk/.
27 Jul 2020 at 00:00
17 Aug 2020 at 23:59
- Copy of flyer
Copy of the flyer sent to local residents regarding the Oakleigh House proposals
- FAQ for Watercress Tenants
Responses to frequently asked questions from Watercress tenants