Planning and Development

Consultation on planning system reforms

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is consulting on two sets of reforms to the planning system.

The first, Changes to the current planning system, includes:

  • changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need
  • securing of First Homes through developer contributions
  • temporarily lifting the small sites threshold
  • extending the current Permission in Principle to major development

This is likely to increase the assessed need for housing in Ashford.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system

The second, Planning for the future, relates to the wider changes that have been announced by the government. The Government press release states that the proposals include:

  • plans to overhaul outdated planning system and reform the way the country builds
  • Plans to streamline process, cut red tape and harness technology to deliver homes faster
  • Valued green spaces protected for future generations, with more building on brownfield land
  • Building beautiful homes with communities at heart of new planning system
  • 30% discount through First Homes, with an emphasis on key workers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/launch-of-planning-for-the-future-consultation-to-reform-the-planning-system

East Stour Park appeal

image of development

The developer of the proposed East Stour Park development at junction of Romney Marsh Road and north of, Norman Road has appealed the decision by Ashford Borough Council to refuse the application.

The Council’s planning committee voted to refuse the application against officer recommendations following representations from South Ashford Community and a local resident. The Ward Councillor also spoke against granting permission. The reasons given for refusal rested primarily on the site’s location in Ashford’s Green Corridor.

The developer has asked for the appeal to be considered at a hearing rather than by submitted representations, citing a complex mix of considerations and claiming that Ashford Borough Council no longer have a five year housing land supply.

Homeplus development amendments

A revised set of plans has been posted on the Ashford Borough Council planning website for the redevelopment of the Homeplus site.

A decision on the planning application was deferred by the Planning Committee when the application was considered on 17th June 2020: for Officers to seek clarification and scheme amendments as necessary from the applicant to deal with Improvements to the overall quality of design across the whole site based on Members’ comments on design issues.

The amendments to the scheme include a reduction by one storey of the Beaver Road block and changes to the roof line, which to an extent addresses comments by South Ashford Community Forum. Materials have been changed across the design and heights have been adjusted in other parts of the proposal.

The changes result in a reduction of seven in the number of flats proposed.

Addressing another comment made by SACF, the amended documents include an Energy Strategy that shows an improvement on Building Regulations maximum carbon emissions of 22% compared with 5% for the previous scheme.

A revised Financial Viability Assessment asserts that the developer would be unable to pay the S106 contributions requested by the Council (valued at £1.3m).

ABC Planning case ref: 19/01597/AS

Homeplus decision deferred

Homeplus proposals elevation

Yesterday evening (17 June 2020), Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee deferred a decision on the proposal by A Better Choice for Property for the redevelopment of the Homeplus site on the corner of Beaver Road and Avenue Jacques Faucheux. The reasons sited were quality of design and massing of the proposals. The vote to defer was taken after a motion to Refuse the application failed. A motion to Permit was not seconded.

The meeting papers and a link to view the recording of the meeting are at: 
https://ashford.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=3821
The application is at:
https://planning.ashford.gov.uk/Planning/details.aspx?systemkey=113996

East Stour Park decision

Riverside view of proposed development

The decision notice for the East Stour Park development has been published by Ashford Borough Council.

The reason given or refusal is:

The proposal would be contrary to Policies SP1 and ENV2 of the Ashford Local Plan (ALP) 2030, the Green Corridor Action Plan 2017 supporting the ALP and policies in the NPPF and would be harmful to interests of acknowledged planning importance for the following reasons;

  1. the application site is located within the designated Ashford Green Corridor and the proposed residential development is not compatible with, or ancillary to, the principal role and current use of the application site and would be harmful to the existing visual function of this part of the Green Corridor through the loss of an important undeveloped open space ‘buffer’ located between the existing built-up area to the west and the A2042 located to the east,
  2. as a consequence of (a) above, the proposal would result in a detrimental change to the landscape character and visual amenity of this part of the Green Corridor,
  3. the proposal would give rise to a detrimental change in the ability of the site to continue to function as a wide undeveloped corridor supporting varied wildlife habitat, wildlife connectivity and biodiversity,
  4. the proposal would result in unjustified residential development on land which is flood zone 3, and
  5. the site is not a brownfield site and the proposal would not provide overriding planning benefits sufficient to outweigh the significant harms identified above.

Arlington payphone removal.

Red telephone box

Ashford Borough Council have received notice that the payphone at No. 58 Arlington is one of five that BT intend to remove in addition to those publicised in June last year.

Ashford Borough Council will not adopt the payphone but there is an opportunity for a local community group to do so. BT would like to hear the view of the community on the proposal.

Please comment on this post – we will feed your comments back to ABC.

BT’s letter to ABC says:

We’re continually reviewing the demand for our payphones. Further to our letter of 28 June 2019 we’ve now identified an additional 5 public payphones that we’re proposing for removal under the 90 day consultation process and details of these payphones are attached. We’d welcome your feedback on whether the payphones in question are still needed. We greatly appreciate your help with this.

To ensure that the local community are fully informed, we have placed consultation notices on the relevant payphones, and a sample notice is enclosed. We have also included the date we posted these notices on
the payphones. The consultation period will close on 14 May 2020.

This consultation process gives your local communities the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make it an asset that local people can enjoy. It’s really simple to do and it costs just £1.00
http://bt.com/adopt

Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK
having either 3G or 4G coverage. This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.

You may also want to consider Ofcom’s affordability report which found that most people do not view payphones as essential for most consumers in most circumstances http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/affordability/affordability_report.pdf

On the 14 March 2006 Ofcom published a statement following their 2005 review of universal service in the telecommunications market, which includes a requirement for payphone provision to meet reasonable
needs. Part of that statement amended our obligations with regard to the removal of payphone service:
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf file/0021/34266/statement.pdf

As stated in Ofcom’ review,it is the responsibility of the local authority to initiate its own consultation process to canvas the views of the local community. They would normally expect these consultations to involve other public organisations such parish or community councils work within the terms of the Communications Act . This means that you must able to objectively justify your decisions guidance on the removal process can be viewed at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removals.pdf
and a summary is available at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removing_callboxes.pdf

The guidance also details the appeals process we must follow in case of unreasonable objections.
If you wish to’object’, you will need to give your reasons, having reviewed all of the factors set out in Annex 1 of Ofcom’s guidance (see link above), and the information sent to you in our previous letter.

East Stour Park refused.

Riverside view of proposed development

Members of Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee, yesterday evening voted to Refuse the Planning Application for the East Stour Park Development.

After a local resident had spoken in objection to the development and the developer’s architect Guy Holloway had spoken in support, Chair of South Ashford Community Forum, Bob Shrubb, objected to the Development. He raised issues relating to:

  • The Sequential and Exception Test required to ensure that development is carried out in areas of lower flood risk and that the wider sustainability benefits to the community outweigh flood risk and that the proposed development would be safe,
  • The impact on the movement of wildlife through Ashford’s Green Corridor and
  • The site not being allocated for development in Ashford’s Local Plan although it had assessed through the land availability assessment process through which sites are allocated.

South Ashford Community Forum are pleased that a large majority of Members (15:1) chose to Refuse the application, but are aware that the option to appeal the decision is open to the developer.

The Community Forum believe that the reason for refusal (Green Corridor Policy ENV2) is sound and trust, if an appeal is submitted, that the Council are able to evidence the case to the inspector. We also believe that the validity of the developer’s Sequential and Exception Test should be independently reviewed.