Consultations

1 Background

1.1      South Ashford Community Forum

South Ashford Community Forum (SACF) is an open forum set up to represent the views of people living and working in the unparished area of South Ashford and to help communicate those views to Ashford Borough Council (ABC), Kent County Council (KCC) and other statutory organisations. It is an independent voluntary group with its own constitution.

Any reference to South Ashford in this submission relates to the area served by SACF.

1.2      Parks and open spaces in Ashford

South Ashford includes the following public parks and open spaces:

  • Victoria Park: A semi-formal urban park, a short walk from the town centre, originally purchased by Ashford Borough Council’s predecessor in 1898. Trees and furniture originally commemorated eminent townspeople. The Grade II* listed Hubert Fountain is located in the park. The Park incorporates laid out paths, open grass, some flower beds and children’s play areas. The Stour Valley cycle/footway passes through the park together with some secondary transit routes. A indoor bowls club building has been built in the park and a children’s nursery occupies another building.
  • Watercress Fields: A large open space, stretching westward along the River Great Stour from Victoria Park, to the boundary of the unparished area. Part of the Stour Valley cycle/footway runs through Watercress Fields. Although mainly open grass, small wooded areas, meadow and river bank environment are also present. A Community Orchard has been created within the space.
  • Bowens Field Wetlands: An area constructed as surface water storage to the East of Victoria Park, in 1990, modified and planted to create a wetland area in 2004.
  • Open spaces, designated in the Local Plan, at Noakes Meadow, Cryol Road, St. Anne’s Road, which include play parks and/or multi-use games areas, and at Cleves Way, Knoll Lane and Musgrove.
  • Non-designated open space created in the planning of the housing estates of South Ashford.

1.3      Ashford’s Green Corridor

Victoria Park, Watercress Fields and Bowens Field form part of Ashford’s Green Corridor, a linear area of parks, recreation grounds and other green spaces alongside the River Great Stour and its tributaries flowing through Ashford. In addition to recreational space, being adjacent to the River Stour the Green Corridor is a major area of flood protection, most of which is designated as a local nature reserve. The Green Corridor is protected by ABC planning policies.

1.4      Ashford Borough Council policy

1.4.1   Corporate Plan

In Corporate Plan adopted by ABC in October 2015, Priority 4 is

“Attractive Ashford: Countryside and Townscape, Tourism and Heritage”.

The stated aspiration attached to this priority is:

“To achieve an environment that creates higher standards of public space design, alongside improved standards of presentation of key green spaces.

“To safeguard and conserve our local heritage and areas of outstanding landscape quality to ensure the very best attractive environment with thriving and vibrant town centres”.

Included in the actions attached to the policy are

“Improve and safeguard the quality and presentation of the borough, recognising its unique environment, countryside, local heritage and tourism offer”:

  • Create Landscape Action Team and implement higher maintenance standards. Respond to growth and associated land management issues through quality, flexibility, control and cost management.
  • Bring forward a new green corridor action plan to improve presentation, signage, planting and better water quality.

“Delivery of best mix of new and existing parks and green spaces, incorporating quality public art and cutting edge design”:

1.4.2 In-house Landscape Management

From October 2016, ABC will be bringing the responsibility for grounds maintenance across the borough back in-house. ABC have said “this initiative is a key part of delivering the adopted Land Management Improvement Plan, which aims to make the borough a pleasant and enjoyable place to live, work, visit and enjoy.

“The new in-house service will give us greater flexibility as we will be able to move resources where they are needed most, with an ability to be more fluid with changing priorities. It will also be more cost effective.”

1.4.3   Planning Policy

ABC’s current Local Development Framework includes a number of policies relating to creation and maintenance of open space and a Supplementary Planning Document, Public Green Spaces and Water Environment.

ABC’s Draft Local Plan, for which the Regulation 19 consultation has recently been completed, incorporates similar policies into the single Local Plan document. There is, inevitably, less detail than contained in the current plan. The Draft Local Plan does however refer to a separate Green Corridor Action Plan that has not yet been published.

1.4.4   Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan

In September 2015, ABC Officer, Chris Dixon, gave a presentation to SACF outlining proposals to produce a management plan for Victoria Park. This resulted in a creation a Concept Masterplan for improvements to Victoria Park and Watercress Fields together with proposals for an Application to Heritage Lottery Fund for finance to implement part of the Masterplan which included the refurbishment of the Hubert Fountain.

In March 2016 ABC’s Cabinet resolved that:

(i) the Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Concept Masterplan be adopted as an indicative framework to support the future planning of new development, refurbishment and timely partnership working as opportunities arise.

(ii) the first stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund with a Council contribution of up to £10,000 be endorsed and a further report be brought forward in due course to consider the second stage application.

The HLF first stage application was, however, unsuccessful.

2 Use of parks and open spaces in South Ashford

Who uses parks and open spaces, how often and for what

2.1      Victoria Park

Victoria Park is used by many people for all of the activities that would normally be expected in an urban park: walking, dog walking, children’s play, other forms of exercise and general relaxation. Some locations in the Park have become community hubs, where people meet, particularly some members of Ashford’s large Nepalese Community but also groups of young people.

The Park is used for regular activities by organisations including Parkrun and at least two fitness training organisations. The annual Create Music Festival, organised by ABC is held in the Park and occasionally fun fairs use the Park.

2.2      Watercress Fields

Watercress Fields is to an extent used as an extension to Victoria Park, and is considered by some to be part of the Park. The larger grass areas lend themselves to playing football including regular use by some informal groups. In the past marked pitches and fixed goal posts have been provided, which were used by organised groups. The youth group, Hang 10, which meets weekly, bases itself in Watercress Fields during summer months; this is aided by the provision of fixtures such as an outdoor table tennis table.

2.3      Transit Routes

The Stour Valley cycle/footpath runs along the River Great Stour from via Singleton Lake, located just outside of South Ashford, through Watercress Fields, Victoria Park and Bowens Field Wetlands to continue along the Green Corridor to Ashford Station and beyond. This is used by many as a route for commuting and leisure, both by cycle and on foot, from parts of South Ashford and beyond to the Station and other places in Ashford.

The route referred to as Jemmett Path runs to the East of Victoria Park. This is already a heavily used cycle/footway from South Ashford into the Town Centre and is planned to become more important as southern urban extensions to Ashford are created. A secondary connection to Jemmett Path runs from Hillbrow Road along the main avenue in Victoria Park, via the Hubert Fountain, connecting to Jemmett Path at the north-east access to the Park. This route, although not marked as a cycle route takes most of the cycle and foot traffic from Brookfield to the Town Centre.

Some users of these routes do break their journey in Victoria Park and Watercress Fields for relaxation or play.

2.4      Designated open spaces

The designated open spaces are used by those living for many of the same activities as Victoria Park and Watercress Fields. They benefit local residents in that there is less travel involved in using them thus making them suitable activities undertaken for shorter periods.

2.5      Non-designated open spaces

Being close to the homes, parents are able to supervise children playing in these areas from the home. Many are important substitutes for private garden space for families living in flats.

3 Contribution of parks to health and wellbeing

The contribution of parks to the health and well-being of communities

Parks and open spaces provide areas for exercise and relaxation. They encourage walking and cycling to destinations as they provide a pleasant alternative over walking alongside, cycling on roads. For children they provide space for running around, climbing on play equipment, boulders, cut tree stumps/fallen trees, hills and slopes. Which in addition to the general health benefits of the exercise, improves coordination, balance and core body strength. They also promote mental health as they provide a safe outdoor environment.

4 Impact of reductions in local authority budgets on parks

The impact of reductions in local authority budgets on parks

Over many years, spending on parks and open spaces in Ashford has failed to keep up with rising costs. As a result all of the parks and open spaces are much less well maintained than they once were.

Whilst there have been attempts over the years to make improvements to Victoria Park, Watercress Fields and Bowens Field, the changes made often fail to achieve the ambitions of those who planned them because areas affected have fallen into disrepair or become overgrown.

The situation is exacerbated by some members of the public who litter and dump rubbish in parks or cause damage to soft and hard landscaping and furniture. Whilst it is appreciated that there is a cost attached to clearing up after such people, the failure to do so creates an environment in which such behaviour is seen as acceptable and others are likely to follow suit.

Litter is cleared and grass is mowed regularly in Victoria Park but there is a lack of pro-active maintenance and management.

Designated and non-designated open spaces have in recent years suffered from reduced mowing cycles and lack of pro-active maintenance resulting in them looking untidy and rendering them unsuitable for some basic activities, such as ball games, and attracting many complaints.

5 Funding

What additional or alternative funding is available and what scope is there for local authorities to generate revenue from park users?

Ashford Borough Council does not generally charge organisations for use of parks, with the exception of funfairs, which pay a nominal fee. We believe there is scope for charging for organised activities in the parks. Some discretion should be applied where the organisers are non-profit making.

Provision of revenue raising activities in parks would need to be approached with great care, there is a risk that the relaxed atmosphere could be lost if excessive commercial activity was undertaken in parks.

In adopting the Victoria Park and Watercress Fields Masterplan referred to in 1.4.3 above, Ashford Borough Council has assumed that some money will be available from contributions from developers of new residential development in the vicinity. This income will be used to make the improvements proposed but will not be available for maintenance of the Park.

As noted, an application for funds to HLF was also made but was unsuccessful. Whilst grants could be sought to offset the reduction in expenditure by local authorities, many grant funding bodies prefer to see funds spent on new capital works or identifiable enhancements rather than operation and maintenance. There is also a limit to grant funding available, which could result in too many parks chasing the same funds.

6 Community Involvement

There are local examples of community involvement in parks and pen spaces that could be extended or used as models:

6.1      Friends of Singleton Lake

Singleton Lake and Buxford Meadow is an open space in the Parish of Great Chart with Singleton, to the immediate north-west of South Ashford. It is owned by Kent County Council but they had little involvement in its upkeep. The Great Stour, a main river for which the Environment Agency has responsibility runs through the site and feeds the Lake. It is a designated open space in the Ashford Local Plan and part of the Green Corridor. ABC employs Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership to advise and undertake some maintenance along the Green Corridor. Following a public meeting in March 2015, a management plan was created, as part of which, Great Chart with Singleton Parish Council agreed to oversee the formation of a community group. The group

  • acts as a pressure group to get things done
  • does some practical work to improve the area.
  • raises funds for improvements.
  • engages other local people.

As a result community cohesion is increased, the community have a voice in the management of the space and appreciation and respect for the area is increased among the local community.

It has proved difficult to engender community engagement in South Ashford but we believe there is scope for a ‘friends’ group for Victoria Park and Watercress Fields. A successful group could lead to formation of groups for other open spaces.

6.2      KCC Countryside Access Wardens

KCC employs volunteers to help keep the public rights of way network open. They:

  • Fix waymarker discs where paths change direction
  • Attach path-end number signs where paths leave the road
  • Spot vegetation clearance around furniture and choke points’
  • Maintain gate hinges to ensure proper closure
  • Report more significant faults via an online form or telephone
  • Report work completed no less than 10 times per year
  • Carry out basic inspections & photographing evidence for obstruction of PROWs by private landowners

KCC provide training, tools and insurance to Countryside Access Wardens.

We would like to see a similar system of volunteers used to carry out some basic maintenance in parks and open spaces. This could be beneficial where small tasks are undertaken that would involve excessive administration or travel and transport when undertaken by Council employees.

6.3      Ashford Oaks Primary School: Project Purple

Working in partnership with staff from the Aspire community group and Kent Wildlife Trust, pupils of Ashford Oaks Primary School have created a welcoming place where residents can socialise within a non-designated open space in South Ashford. The project has proceeded over a number of years with different year 6 pupils. Last year the children:

  • tended the flower planters,
  • managed the area to prevent litter and broken glass,
  • constructed more benches for people to sit and come together.
  • constructed a set of small goal posts as part of a play area.

The project was started after some pupils had has given children an appreciation of the environment and a sense of ownership for their community and pride for where they live.

Similar projects could be created to engender such responsibility for open spaces among local residents.

6.4      Victoria Park Youth Sculpture Trail

Three local schools worked with an artist to create the sculptures and engage in the natural heritage of Victoria Park. Together they made site visits, tree rubbings, and engaged in woodland craft workshops to create an oak sculpture trail across the park. The project was funded from receipts from plastic carrier bag charges by a supermarket.

This project engaged young people and their families in the local park and engendered a sense of ownership.

Such schemes may be more attractive to funders than direct approaches by local authorities but as stated in 5 above, we don’t believe that grant funding offers a complete solution. We do believe there is scope for community involvement in the management and maintenance of parks which might relieve some pressure on local authority budgets but would not provide sufficient funds or resources to fully support parks and open spaces.

SACF Electoral Review Proposal

Preamble

This is the online version of the South Ashford Community Forum submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s (LGBCE) consultation on warding arrangements.

The LGBCE is the independent organisation that provides electoral arrangements for English local authorities that are fair for voters and keeps the map of English local government in good repair.

The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw ward boundaries across the borough.

The Commission has also announced that it is minded to recommend that the council should have 47 borough councillors in the future: four more than the current arrangements.

The Commission now needs information from people and groups across Ashford to help it to produce a new pattern of wards to accommodate 47 councillors.

We have tried to comply with the LGBCE’s main criteria when setting out these proposals. They are:

  • The new pattern of wards should mean that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters as elected members elsewhere in the authority.
  • Ward patterns should – as far as possible – reflect community interests and identities and boundaries should be identifiable.
  • The electoral arrangements should promote effective and convenient local government and reflect the electoral cycle of the council.

More information is available in the LGBCE’s document How to propose a pattern of wards and their Technical Guidance

You are welcome to make comments on our proposals using the form below. We would like to know, especially, what your thoughts on

  • the ward boundaries we have proposed as shown in Figure 6.
  • the names of the wards we have suggested

You can open any of the maps in Google Maps by clicking on the image in this document. They will open in a new tab in your browser.

The LGBCE consultation information is available on the LGBCE website

1          Introduction

South Ashford Community Forum is an open forum set up by Ashford Borough Council to represent the views of people living and working in the unparished area of South Ashford and to help communicate those views to Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and other statutory organisations.

The area represented by South Ashford Community Forum comprises the whole of the current Beaver and Norman district council wards and that part of Victoria Ward that lies to the South of the Charing Cross to Dover railway line.

With the exception of Figure 3, the maps we have used have been created using Google Maps. Clicking on them will open the online maps.

2          Current Ward Boundaries

The shapes of the district council wards that serve the unparished area of South Ashford have long been a concern of South Ashford Community Forum. The proposals put forward in this document seek to rectify the issues created by the shapes of the existing wards, whilst accounting for a likely increase in the electorate.

The Victoria Ward includes the town centre, the Christchurch area and the north-west part of the Brookfield Estate with Watercress

The Town Centre is separated from the remainder of the Ward by the Charing Cross to Ashford railway line. Whilst the Beaver Road (Station) Bridge lands within the ward to the north and south of the railway, it is a busy dual carriageway and acts more as a division between the communities than a link. The communities of the Brookfield and Watercress estates are physically separated from those of Christchurch area by the open space of Victoria Park and the sites of the Ashford College and South School. The only roads linking the two are Brookfield Road/Beaver Lane that passes through Beaver Ward and Leacon Road / Victoria Road that forms the spine road for the Chart Industrial Estate and does not form a satisfactory community link.

The Norman Ward has a large land area, most of which is undeveloped or comprises commercial development. Two distinct residential communities of Torrington Road and Hampden are separated by industrial / retail estates.

These issues are represented in Figure 2 that shows the wards excluding the areas that have no dwellings.

In addition to the topological issues, four of the eight Lower Layer Super Output Areas (indicated in Figure 3) that make up the unparished area of South Ashford, including those covering Brookfield and Watercress, are among are the 20% most deprived in England (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015) and therefore have needs very different to those of the town centre.

Inclusion of these topologically and socially disparate areas renders effective representation of the electorate in those areas more difficult for councillors.

3          Community Governance Review

During 2015 Ashford Borough Council carried out a Community Governance Review.

A proposal to parish the South Ashford Community Forum area was proposed but not carried to the final recommendations because the result of a ballot was negative. The Community Forum therefore remains the only form of Community Governance for the area.

Two changes were recommended to boundaries of parishes bordering the unparished area of South Ashford. These changes were:

  • The south-east boundary of the Parish of Great Chart with Singleton Parish with Beaver Ward be amended to include 16 & 17 Lodge Close and 1-10 The Burrows within the Parish. These properties are currently within the un-parished urban area. This amendment is shown on Plan 4 in Appendix 1.
    We propose that the district ward boundaries are adjusted to be coterminous with the boundary of Great Chart with Singleton.

We further propose that the district ward boundary continues along the centre of Knoll Lane and, assuming that a ward boundary along Cuckoo Lane is retained, that the intersection of the three wards occurs in the centre of the junction of Knoll Lane and Cuckoo Lane, moving the boundary to the road. No properties will be affected, but it moves the boundary to the road, which is a sensible recognised boundary feature.

  • The boundary of the Parish of Kingsnorth with the boundary of the South Willesborough [and Norman], Ward[s] as shown on Plan 10 in Appendix 1. No properties are affected, but it moves the boundary to the road, which is a sensible recognised boundary feature.

We propose that the district ward boundary is amended to be coterminous with the boundary of the Parish of Kingsnorth.

4          Proposed development in South Ashford

Whilst there has been much residential development in the parishes that border South Ashford since the last Electoral Review, there has been little in the unparished area of South Ashford. In the last year however, schemes have come forward that will have an impact on the number of residential properties in South Ashford, hence the number of voters.

Figure 4 Proposed Development

The following proposals have been considered:

4.1      Powergen Site

This proposed development will utilise derelict land once occupied by the Ashford’s electricity generating station, now lying either side of Victoria Road and Leacon Road. It was granted planning permission by Ashford Borough Council on 15th June 2016. The developer has commenced detailed surveys and clearing the site.

A total of 660 dwellings are proposed, housing approximately 2000 residents.

4.2      Victoria Way

Developer U+I has held a number of public consultation events and has attended a South Ashford Community Forum Meeting to present information on this mixed use development that will use derelict land at the junction of Beaver Road and Victoria Road.

A planning application submitted by the U+I subsidiary, HDD Ashford, has been verified by the Council, which includes 216 dwellings. News releases by the proposed occupier indicate that funding is in place for some of the non-residential elements of the development, giving a strong indication that this development will proceed if permission is granted.

4.3      Ashford College Site

A new campus is being constructed, in the Town Centre, for Ashford College. Its current site will become vacant in September 2017 when the College moves to its new campus.

The current and draft Local Plans allocate the site for housing development. An outline planning application was submitted in 2007 for 241 dwellings on the site. The application was approved but with a condition that no more than 154 dwellings were built, unless the applicant could show that more could be accommodated whilst complying with all of the Council’s policies. The Council have included the lower number in their Housing Trajectory for the Draft Local Plan.

4.4      South School Site

This site was vacated by the LEA some years ago and has been used for various purposes temporarily since then. Development of the site has been inhibited by lack of suitable access, which will be enabled by the development of the adjacent College site. The site is now in use as a as a temporary accommodation for Finberry Primary School which we understand will end in September 2017, coinciding with the College site becoming vacant.

The Draft Local Plan proposes 110 dwellings on the site.

4.5      Leacon Road

This site now comprises two plots, both of which were industrial uses. The smaller plot is included in the current Local Development Framework as site U7 and is allocated for residential development of 100 units. This allocation has been carried forward in the Council’s Draft Local Plan.

5          Forecast Electorate for South Ashford

We have calculated the future electorate in South Ashford using the number of voters from data provided by Ashford Borough Council for 1st April 2016 together with an estimate of the number voters that will reside in the major developments that are detailed in 4 above. We have assumed that the number of voters in the new developments will be equivalent to the current number of voters per residential address. We believe this offers a more accurate forecast of electorate than the data included in the Review documentation.

Table 1 Current Electorate
Ward Voters
Beaver 4035
Norman 1989
Victoria 3781
Total     inc Town Centre 9814
            exc Town Centre * 8962

* Excludes 9 voters in The Lodge and The Burrows

Table 2 Forecast electorate
Voters
Existing 8962
Leacon Way 190
Powergen 1259
Victoria Way 429
College 293
South School 301
Total 11342

6          Warding

6.1      Council Size

Ashford Borough Council has proposed an increase in the size of the Council to serve a forecast increase in the electorate. The electorate at the time of the Council’s review was 89,862 voters who were represented by 43 councillors, equivalent to 2,090 voters per councillor.

They forecast 99,868 voters in 2022 and propose 47 councillors, which equates to 2,125 voters per councillor.

South Ashford Community Forum supports this proposal.

6.2      Number of Councillors

Based on the Council’s proposal and our forecast of the electorate in South Ashford, five councillors would be required to serve the unparished area of South Ashford with each councillor representing 2268 voters, which will be 6.7% above the proposed average for the Borough.

6.3      Communities

Figure 3 South Ashford Neighbourhoods

Figure 5 South Ashford Communities

We have attempted to identify the communities that form South Ashford. We have concluded that the communities are derived generally from the development that has created the area. There are dwellings, along the older spine roads of Beaver Road, Kingsnorth Road and Beaver Lane that do not necessarily form part of the developmental communities but may have been assimilated into the communities either side of the roads, sometimes helping to link the communities. The communities identified are shown in Figure 5.

6.4      Ward boundary proposal

We believe that having district wards boundaries aligned to parish boundaries avoids potential confusion among voters and aids effective representation. The latter is also the case for community forum areas in the unparished areas of Ashford, the boundaries of which follow recognisable physical features. We have therefore considered only the area represented by South Ashford Community Forum.

We have reviewed a number of options for dividing the area into wards. Our best fit division is illustrated in Figure 6.

The proposal does not reflect the identities of the local communities as well as we would like. The main discrepancies being

  • the split of the Brookfield Estate into two, but this has been achieved by using Brookfield Road as the boundary of the ward we have referred to as Beaver Green,
  • the inclusion of that Part of Beaver Road to the north of its junction with Christchurch Road in Station Ward, whereas it might fall more naturally in Christchurch Ward.

Arrangements we have examined that do not introduce these discrepancies either increase the variance between individual ward sizes and the borough average or create other problems in relation to connections within and between communities that are included in the wards.

We have considered creating two seat wards, as currently exist, to eliminate the discrepancies identified but Councillors have informed us that it is more difficult to provide effective representation to multi-seat wards, even where that does eliminate boundaries that cross communities. We have therefore based our proposal on single seat wards.

This proposal gives a maximum variation from the Borough average ward electorate of 7.6% when proposed development has been occupied.

Table 3 Electorate in proposed wards

Proposed Ward Electorate Variation /
Borough Average
%
Beaver Green 2269 6.8%
Christchurch 2256 6.2%
Watercress 2260 6.4%
Station 2271 6.9%
Woolreeds 2286 7.6%

Figure 6 Proposed ward boundaries

The calculation of the electorate in each ward is given in Appendix 2

The wards proposed are compact, with good road links within the wards, thus assisting effective representation.

7          Conclusion

South Ashford Community Forum proposes that

  • the unparished area of South Ashford is represented by five councillors each serving single seat wards as illustrated in Figure 6.
  • the district ward boundary at Knoll Lane runs along the centre of Knoll Lane and the boundaries of the adjacent wards intersect with it at the junction of Knoll Lane and Cuckoo Lane,
  • the boundary of district wards to the south of the unparished area is aligned to be coterminous with the boundary of the Parish of Kingsnorth.

8         Bibliography

Department for Communities and Local Government. (2015). The English Indices of Deprivation 2015. London.

Appendix 1    Community Governance Review Plans

 

Appendix 2

 

Click here to download Appendix 2 (pdf)

 

The complete document can also been downloaded as pdf (2.5 MB)

Ashford Local Plan to 2030

We identified on this page some of the sections of the Draft Local Plan published by Ashford Borough Council that relate to or will affect South Ashford. This is not a complete list and we strongly encourage you to read as much of the plan as you can.

We have now updated these pages to reflect the changes proposed under the Council’s July 2017 consultation on Main Changes to Local Plan 2030. We have provided some extracts from the Draft Plan but links after the sub-headings link to the full text on the Ashford Borough Council Consultation Portal for the 2016 Draft Local Plan and, where applicable, the 2017 Main Changes.

We welcome your comments on individual parts of the Plan.

If you wish to submit your own comments to Ashford Borough Council, you can do so from their consultation portal.

The Local Plan is accompanied by a number of documents which form the Evidence for adoption of the various policies within the Plan. These can be viewed under Planning and Building Control / Planning Policy / New Local Plan to 2030 / Local Plan 2030 evidence base on the Ashford Borough Council website

We submitted the following Draft Representations during the 2016 consultation:

Ashford Town Centre

Town Centre Boundary

Town Centre Boundary

Chapter 3 – Strategic Poilicies

SP5 – Ashford Town Centre

The area covered by the policies relating to Ashford Town Centre includes most of the area included in the 2010 Town Centre Area Action Plan (TCAAP) including the previous “Southern Expansion Quarter” and “Station Quarter” but this now excludes South Stour Avenue and Eastmead Avenue. Other areas excluded are the area to the North of Somerset Road (the Residential Transition Quarter) and the area of the Godinton Way development. With the exception of the Commercial Quarter, which is now addressed by a site policy, the Draft Local Plan does not refer to the Quarters adopted in the 2010 TCAAP.

Proposals coming forward in Ashford town centre (as shown on the policies map), will be supported in principle where they help to deliver the vision set out above and where they promote high quality design that is appropriate to their location. A range of
principal uses may be acceptable including retail, offices, leisure, residential and hotel. Other complementary uses may include, voluntary and community uses and health facilities. Proposals in the town centre will need to comply with sequential test requirements set out in policy EMP9 .

Commercial Quarter

Chapter 4 – Site Policies

Ashford Urban Area

S1 Commercial Quarter

CommercialQtrThe area to the north of the railway station is as included in the 2012 Town Centre AAP extended to include Templar House, Kent House and the bowling alley and car park.. Although outside of the South Ashford Area, the proposals here will impact on the route from South Ashford into the Town Centre. Planning permission has been granted for some work in this area, with work starting shortly.

This area, adjacent to the stations, will become the dynamic new main business sector of the town – a new office quarter complemented with smaller scale residential, retail and space for eating and drinking.

Different parts of the site have different roles to play. In the Dover Place area, there is potential to reuse heritage buildings and create new flexible space to house smaller office users.

The riverside frontage of the site is well suited to a residential-led mix of uses providing riverside access and direct pedestrian access over a new bridge to the South Park and Stour Centre.   The listed Whist House should be restored as part of the development of this part of the site either to its former residential use or a suitable alternative use.

The northern part of the site also includes existing offices and Ashford Bowling, alongside a public car park owned by the Council. This land is not required to come forward to deliver the level of development envisaged in the policy below but are suitable locations for office development and are well placed to respond if the Commercial Quarter develops as proposed. The car park is considered a suitable location for a future Multi Storey Car Park.

Unlike many parts of the town centre where a predominant, historic scale of 3-4 storeys exists, there is the opportunity for larger scale development blocks here. The topography of the Quarter slopes away from the town centre so that taller buildings are less prominent and, of course, International House is a existing landmark feature.  It is not proposed to replicate the height of International House – development fronting Station Road should average 5-6 storeys. There may be scope for building(s) of 7-8 storeys closer to the centre of the Quarter and International House but this would depend on a clear design rationale being agreed for the site as a whole and this would need to be tested through detailed modelling.  On the riverside, 2-4 storeys is likely to be the appropriate range.