Local Plan

Former Ashford South School, Jemmett Road

S12SouthSchoolChapter 4 – Site Policies

Ashford Urban Area

S13 Former Ashford South School, Jemmett Road

The concept of redevelopment to residential uses has long been established on this site.

Development proposals for the site should not detrimentally impact on the retention of the ‘Learning Link’.

Development of this site should be cohesive with the adjacent K College re-development proposals but it is important that the development of this site is able to function as a self contained development in its own right. Consequently, the design and scale of development of the scheme would need to take account of the character of the surrounding area and the scheme proposed on the adjoining K College site and ensure that the residential amenity of neighbouring occupiers is protected and not over-burdened, this is particularly the case on the northern boundary.

The site lies adjacent to the Ashford Oak Tree Primary School and the opportunity should be taken to provide an additional pedestrian and cycle access to the school via this development site.

The site is within close proximity (150 metres) of Victoria Park, a strategic community facility providing play equipment for a number of age groups, areas of open space for informal play and more formal areas of planting. Therefore a contribution towards this facility may be more suitable than the requirement for an onsite play facility. However, the site does provide the opportunity to provide more local areas of open space, which could form part of the overall site design and aesthetics.

The closure of the school has led to loss of a playing field that was used by the wider community and arrangements will have to be made to secure the use of an appropriate alternative playing field in the locality.

Chart Industrial Estate

S22ChartIndEstChapter 4 – Site Policies

Ashford Urban Area

S22 Chart Industrial Estate

This site was included in the 2012 Urban Sites and Infrastructure DPD and proposals for this have not changed.

The area has been identified as one with redevelopment potential which could accommodate a higher density form of development and the construction of Victoria Way, creating a through route to Leacon Road, has opened up this area improving access to the town centre.

This change in the accessibility of the area means that it becomes suitable for a wider range of uses and potentially a denser form of development, particularly along Victoria Way itself. Redevelopment proposals could be for alternative employment uses within use classes B1-8 as well as other employment generating uses such as tourism, healthcare and education.

The area contains a number of existing employers, and as it is not the Council’s policy to encourage redevelopment of their facilities for other uses until alternative land or premises within the town are available, there is likely to be limited potential for redevelopment prior to new employment areas requiring new infrastructure coming forward.

The existing, relatively low density, warehousing and storage character of the area would provide a sudden and jarring change to the urban environment envisaged to the east, the vision for the area is for it to gradually evolve to accommodate a greater mix of different, primarily employment generating uses with potential for some residential development in the longer term.

Proposals will need to contribute to this overall vision for the area with Victoria Way being a major determining factor in a scheme’s design and layout. The public realm and design of buildings fronting Victoria Way will be particularly important. Currently, buildings in this area tend to present blank facades to Leacon Road but redevelopment proposals should re-orientate buildings to present the main facade to this main thoroughfare, with the aim of creating more active streetscene.

The location of the site along the riverside Green Corridor is important. At present the existing development does not relate well to the riverside area so any new development should improve the relationship of the site to the riverside and have regard to nature conservation interests.

Affordable Housing

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU1 Affordable Housing (2016 Draft / 2017 Main Changes)

Because the this subject has raised considerable interest, we have reproduced the whole of this sub-section

5.1 The National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to ensure that Local Plans meet the full, objectively assessed need for market and affordable housing in the housing market area. Where there is an identified need for affordable housing, policies must be set to meet this need on site or where robustly justified through an off-site contribution of broadly equivalent value. The NPPF states that such policies should be sufficiently flexible to take account of changing market conditions over time.

5.2 The Council’s 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) establishes that around 50% of all future houses delivered in the borough should be affordable, in order to meet our ‘full’ objectively assessed housing needs. However it also states that this figure is unlikely to be delivered on the ground, mainly due to the housing market’s inability to deliver it.

5.3 This conclusion is supported by whole plan viability testing that has been carried out in support of this Local Plan, which tested various levels of affordable housing requirements, including different thresholds and tenure mixes. The policy has been set at a level which is considered deliverable in terms of viability, when tested alongside all of the other policies set out in this Local Plan, balanced against the need to maximise potential affordable housing delivery to meet the identified need.

5.4 Affordable Housing for the purposes of this policy includes affordable/social rent, shared ownership, and starter homes and affordable home ownership products which includes starter homes and shared ownership products, as set out in the Housing White Paper 2017.

5.5 Starter home provision within this policy has been set in line with the government’s current consultation on the implementation of the national starter homes policy. It is therefore proposed that starter homes will be required at a level of 20% on sites of 10 units or more (and 0.5 hectares or more), across the Borough. In order to align with this, it is proposed that the threshold for all affordable housing requirements is set at the same thresholds.

The provision of affordable home ownership products set out in this policy has been set in line with the government’s current position as set out in the Housing White Paper in that all sites of 10 units or more (or 0.5 ha or more in size) will provide for a minimum of 10% of such dwellings. Within this requirement, the policy also seeks a minimum requirement for shared ownership products specifically, reflecting the requirement to meet local needs in the borough, balanced with what development can afford to deliver.

5.6 The viability evidence demonstrates significant variation in the viability of residential development across the Borough, which is mainly due to variations in sales values. The requirements for affordable housing have therefore been set at different levels across the value areas of the Borough in order to ensure development is viable and can be delivered. These areas are shown on the Map 6.

Map 6 Inset: Affordable Housing Viability Areas Town Centre and Hinterlands

5.7 Ashford Town area covers the wards of Victoria, Aylesford Green, South Willesborough, Norman, Beaver and Stanhope. The viability evidence shows that developments in this area can only meet the minimum requirement for starter homes provision at 20% with no other affordable housing provision deliver 20% affordable home ownership products. As an exception to this, higher density flatted development is not viable at this level of starter home provision, and it is therefore proposed that such development will not be required to provide any affordable housing.

In a case of flatted development which is being promoted as Build to Rent, consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis, through the provision of independently verified viability evidence, to its ability to deliver affordable private rented housing, up to a maximum of 20% of total dwellings.

5.8 Ashford Hinterlands area covers the wards of Godinton, Bockhanger, Stour, Bybrook, Little Burton Farm, Kennington, North Willesborough, Highfield, Park Farm North, Park Farm South, Singleton South, Washford, Great Chart with Singleton North, the southern area of Bougton Aluph and Eastwell, the northern part of Weald South and the eastern area of Weald East. In this area, development can support up to 30% affordable housing, with 2/3 of this provided as starter homes affordable home ownership products, and 1/3 split evenly between affordable/social rent and shared ownership.

5.9 Rest of Borough includes the villages and rural area covering the wards of Saxon Shore, Wye, Downs North, Downs West, Charing, Weald North, Weald Central, Biddenden, Rolvenden and Tenterden West, Tenterden South, St Michaels, Tenterden North, Isle of Oxney. the northern area of Boughton Aluph and Eastwell, the western area of Weald East and the southern area of Weald South. This area has the potential to support higher levels of affordable housing, and it is proposed that development within this area will provide a minimum of 40% affordable housing,  half of which will be starter homes with 3/4 of this provided as affordable home ownership products, and 1/4 half to be split evenly between affordable/social rent and shared ownership.

5.10 In line with national policy, the provision of affordable housing will normally be expected to be provided on-site. Where this is not possible, specific justification will need to be provided.

5.11 The Council has in the past adopted a flexible approach in relation to affordable housing requirements, and where the viability evidence has supported it, accepted reduced levels of affordable housing on a site by site basis. Given that this Plan has been subject to much more stringent viability testing than previous ones, and the policy has been framed from this evidence, it is expected that the number of applications where viability issues are identified should significantly reduce, and it will certainly not be expected as the norm.

5.12 Site specific circumstances will need to be clearly set out in any case being put forward. This will not include where land has been purchased speculatively above realistic threshold land values.

5.13 Whilst the viability testing has considered impacts of changing market conditions, it is impossible to predict what may happen within the housing market in the future. Should market conditions shift dramatically from those assumed within the viability assessment, flexibility in provision of affordable housing will be allowed for these reasons.

5.14 Where the requirements of this policy are proposed not to be met, viability evidence will be required to be submitted in support of an application and will be rigorously tested by independent advisors, paid for by the applicant, in line with the principles set out in policy IMP2In these circumstances the Council will consider on a case-by-case basis flexibility in the provision of affordable housing, including whether changes are needed to the tenure mix or the overall level of affordable housing, whether a financial contribution is justified to provide equivalent provision elsewhere or whether the application of the Council’s deferred contributions policy (Policy IMP2) is justified.

5.15 The government’s consultation on starter homes proposes exemptions to their provision including for specialist accommodation such as residential care homes; estate regeneration and other affordable housing led developments (for example rural exception sites); student housing; and potentially custom build developments. In addition the consultation proposes potential provision of off-site commuted sums in lieu of on-site provision for private rented sector development and older people’s housing (with no additional support required).

5.16 The following policy seeks to maximise the provision of affordable housing to meet identified needs, taking into account the government’s proposals for a national starter homes policy affordable home ownership products, whilst ensuring the requirements do not put the delivery of the Local Plan at risk as a whole.

Policy HOU1 – Affordable Housing

The Council will require the provision of affordable housing on all schemes promoting 10 dwellings or more (and on sites of 0.5 hectares or more), with provision being not less than the area specific requirements set out in the following table:  All proposals are expected to meet their full affordable housing provision on-site.

Area Affordable/Social Rented Requirements
(% of total dwellings)
Affordable Home Ownership Products
(% of total dwellings)
Total affordable housing requirements
(% of total dwellings)
Ashford Town* 0% 20% (including a minimum of 10% shared ownership) 20%
Ashford Hinterlands* 10% 20% (including a minimum of 10% shared ownership) 30%
Rest of Borough* 10% 30% (including a minimum of 20% shared ownership) 40%

All proposals will be expected to meet their full affordable housing provision on-site except in the following circumstances:

  1. In the Ashford Town area*, flatted development (including the proportion of flats provided on a mixed flat and housing scheme) will not be required to provide any form of affordable housing. In the case of flatted development which is being promoted as Build to Rent, consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis, through the provision of independently verified viability evidence, to its ability to deliver affordable private rented housing, up to a maximum of 20% of total dwellings.
  2. Should independently verified viability evidence establish that it is not possible to deliver the affordable housing as required by this policy, and the viability position is agreed by the Council; the Council will consider on a case-by-case basis flexibility in the provision of affordable housing, including through the consideration of the following options:
    1. Change in the tenure mix required
    2. Reductions in the overall proportion of affordable housing
    3. Provision of an off-site financial contribution in lieu of affordable housing provision on site, to secure the equivalent provision of affordable housing off-site
    4. A combination of the above
    5. Deferred contributions in line with policy IMP2

If a site comes forward as two or more separate schemes, of which one or more falls below the appropriate threshold, the Council will seek an appropriate level of affordable housing on each part to match in total the provision that would have been required on the site as a whole.

* For boundaries see Affordable Housing Viability Areas Map in Chapter 7

Residential Windfall Development

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU3 Residential Windfall Development

Residential development which comes forward on sites outside of those allocated in the Local Plan are known as housing ‘windfalls’. Historically, the Borough has had a strong tradition of delivering housing windfalls and they will contribute towards meeting our objectively assessed housing needs.

Residential windfalls within Ashford

Ashford is the largest settlement in the Borough and is clearly the most sustainable location, enjoying access to good transport links and a range of services, facilities and shops. Although there is currently limited available land in the urban area to develop that has not been allocated in this plan or is not already subject of a planning approval, it is likely that there will be opportunities for new development or infilling to come forward over the plan period.

Policy HOU3 – Residential development in Ashford urban area

Windfall residential development is acceptable within the built up confines of Ashford providing that it can be easily integrated into the existing urban area and the development:

  1. Is of a scale, layout, design and appearance that is appropriate to and is compatible with the character and density of the surrounding area;
  2. Does not create an adverse significant impact on the amenity of residents;
  3. Would not result in harm to or the loss of public or private open spaces that contribute positively to the local character of the area (including residential gardens);
  4. Would not result in significant harm to the surrounding landscape; nearby heritage assets or important biodiversity networks.;
  5. Is capable of having safe lighting and pedestrian access provided without significant impact on neighbours or on the integrity of the street-scene.

Residential Extensions and Standalone Annexes

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU8/9 Residential Extensions and Standalone Annexes (2016 Draft / 2017 Main Changes)
Residential Extensions

By modernising, adapting or enlarging an existing dwelling its life can be significantly extended, which in turn, contributes to the future sustainable development of the Borough. Small scale extensions and alterations to properties have in recent years often become categorised as ‘permitted development’ under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order 2015.

Where an extension requires permission, the Council requires that the scale and visual impact of such development is appropriate in relation to both the existing dwelling and the surrounding area and that the living conditions of neighbours are not adversely affected.

Policy HOU8 – Residential Extensions

Proposals for extensions to dwellings will be permitted if each of the following criteria is met:

  1. the existing dwelling enjoys a lawful residential use; and
  2. the proposed extension would not materially harm any neighbouring uses including the living conditions of adjoining residents; and,
  3. the proposed extension is suitable in size, scale and built form to the existing dwelling to which it should be physically linked; and
  4. the proposed extension is designed sensitively to avoid harm to the overall character or street scene of the surrounding area and the landscape and the distinct features of the landscape character area in which it is located.

Annexes which are physically linked to the main dwelling will be determined against Policy HOU8 including in schemes where they contain all the facilities essential for independent residential occupation.

For all annexe schemes (attached or standalone) a planning permission is likely to be conditioned to ensure that the annex in question remains used for its intended purpose.

Standalone annexes will be supported where it can be demonstrated that there is a need for such a facility – for example to provide a home for elderly or infirm relatives unable to live independently, or for staff accommodation and that the standalone annex is sited appropriately and that it has a real and functional relationship between the occupation of the main dwelling and the annexe. It is unlikely that a standalone annex located outside the curtilage of the main dwelling, or without a demonstrable functional relationship with the main dwelling, will be supported in principle.

Policy HOU9 – Standalone annexes

Proposals for detached annexe accommodation to residential property will be permitted where;

  1. the existing residential property enjoys a lawful residential use; and
  2. the proposed annexe would not materially harm any neighbouring uses; and,
  3. the scale and appearance of the proposed annexe is sympathetic and modest in proportion to the principal dwelling and site; and
  4. sited to achieve a clear dependency is retained between the annexe and the main building at all times; and
  5. the proposed annexe is designed sensitively to complement the existing dwelling and is clearly ancillary and visually subordinate to it in design and massing; and
  6. the proposed annexe would not have a harmful visual impact on the overall character of the surrounding area and/or the street scene or  be visually intrusive in the landscape in which it is located

Development of Residential Gardens

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU10 Development of Residential Gardens

The uncontrolled loss of residential gardens can lead to a piecemeal and inappropriate pattern or style of development being delivered. This can individually or cumulatively erode openness, disrupt wildlife corridors, and harm the living conditions of neighbouring residents.

Policy HOU10 – Development of residential gardens

Development proposals involving the complete or partial redevelopment of residential garden land will be permitted provided the proposed development complies with the Council’s external space standards as set out in Policy HOU15 and does not result in significant harm to the character of the area including:

  1. The surrounding grain and built pattern of development including the prevailing building density, line, frontage width, building orientation, distance from the road, existing plot sizes and visual separation between dwellings;
  2. The surrounding built form comprising the scale, massing, height, design and materials of construction of the buildings;
  3. The wider landscape and/or the countryside setting;
  4.  wildlife corridors and biodiversity habitats;
  5. The amenity of adjoining residents.

Houses of Multiple Occupation

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU11 Houses of Multiple Occupation

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are properties which are occupied by unrelated households that share one or more facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen. HMOs are an example where a high degree of sharing facilities is typical, where living arrangements, being more intense than single family occupation.

Planning permission is generally not required for a change of use from a dwelling house (Use Class C3) to a Small HMO (Use Class C4), as it is permitted under the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). Large houses in multiple occupation (those with more than 6 people sharing) are unclassified by the Use Classes Order, and planning permission is required for a change use of from a C3 or C4 to a large house in multiple occupation.

The Council subsequently approved an Article 4 direction so that planning permission would still be required for a change of use from C3 to C4 in specific wards in Ashford (including Beaver Ward).

The problems associated with high concentrations of HMOs have been recognised nationally, by residents and organisations, the press and by the government. The study ‘Evidence Gathering-Housing in Multiple Occupation And Possible Planning Responses’ carried out by Ecotec for the government in 2008 summarise the impacts as including:

  • antisocial behaviour, noise and nuisance
  • imbalance and unsustainable communities
  • negative impacts on physical environment and streetscape
  • pressures upon parking provision
  • increased crime
  • growth in private rented sector at expense of owner-occupier
  • pressure upon local community facilities, and
  • restructuring of retail, commercial services and recreational facilities to suit the lifestyles of the predominant population.

In Ashford, the principal impacts have been from noise and disturbance, impact on the environment from neglected gardens, litter, overflowing bins, and pressure on parking due to more people living in an HMO than would generally live in the same size house. The principal areas of concern in Ashford, and where the Article 4 direction has been put in place are:

  • South Ashford where there has been a concentration of conversion to HMO of three storey properties in Beaver Ward. Some also have the ground floor garage converted into a separate flat. This has resulted in issues of noise, antisocial behaviour and parking pressures.

The following policy sets out the criteria which will be considered when determining applications for new HMOs or when deciding whether the take enforcement action.

Policy HOU11 – Houses in Multiple Occupation

Proposals for Houses in Multiple Occupation (small or large) will only be permitted where the proposed development, taken by itself or in combination with existing HMOs in the vicinity of the site, would not result in an unacceptably harmful impact in respect of any of the following:

  1. Residential amenity, caused by increased noise and disturbance;
  2. Highway safety, caused by insufficient onsite parking provision thereby resulting in an unacceptable increase in on street parking, or
  3. Visual amenity, including that from inappropriate or insufficient arrangements for dustbin storage.

Permissions granted will normally be subject to a condition that restricts the number of occupants allowed to reside at the property as their main residence.

Residential Space Standards

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU12 Residential Space Standards (Internal) (2016 Draft / 2017 Main Changes)

The Government has introduced a set of Nationally Described Space Standards. The national space standards are based upon the areas required to accommodate essential furniture and storage items and the need for the occupants to be able to circulate around them. Good practice would be to exceed these standards where practical in order to provide a good range of accommodation.

(This text was formerly contained under Homes Suitable for family occupation as para 5.98- see HOU13)

The amount of space for cooking, living and eating is not defined in the new standards. The rooms used for those purposes are important areas for families to interact and usually include areas for play, study and storage as well as the basic functions of each of these areas. Although one large room is sometimes provided to accommodate all of these functions in homes designed for one or two people, this is not usually an appropriate layout for family occupation. At least two separate rooms, rather than one large room, should therefore be provided to accommodate cooking, eating and living in homes suitable for family occupation with three or more bedrooms. Provision of a separate room does not necessarily require any increase to the gross internal floor area.

It may, very occasionally, be necessary to make an exception to development meeting the national minimum standards, for example, in the case of the conversion of historic buildings where it may be desirable to maintain important and distinctive characteristics that contribute to the character of the building. However, without strong justification, proposals which do not comply with the standards are unlikely to be acceptable.


Accessible and Adaptable

Chaper 5 – Topic Policies

Section A – Housing

HOU13/14 Accessible and Adaptable
Policy HOU13 – Homes suitable for family occupation

Policy deleted, requirement moved to Policy HOU12

All new residential development designed for family occupation and having 3 or more bedrooms shall include at least 2 separate rooms to accommodate space for cooking, eating and living.

Policy HOU14 – Accessibility standards

Accessibility in compliance with building regulations part M shall be provided as follows:-

  • a. All ‘new build’ homes shall be built in compliance with building regulations part M4 (2) as a minimum standard.
  • b. In ‘new build’ properties which are affordable, a proportion of wheelchair accessible homes complying with building regulations part M4 (3b) will be required. The number of homes built to M4 (3b) standards will be dependent upon the number of households on the Council’s housing waiting list requiring wheelchair accessible homes and the suitability of the location for wheelchair users.