Planning and Development

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.

Opening of J10a London facing slip roads

Highways England are pleased to announce that the London facing slip roads will be available for traffic on 20 December 2019. The availability of these slip roads will make junction 10a fully operational.

The construction of the London facing slip roads of junction 10a, involved building two new bridges to allow the new slip roads to span over the Aylesford stream. It also required the permanent closure of the existing Junction 10 coast facing slips to enable the new slips to safety join onto the M20.

The fully operational new junction 10a will:

  • Relieve congestion around the existing junction 10 and therefore will reduce queues forming on the slip road which often extend back onto the M20.
  • Improve safety; and
  • Will improve journeys and open the door for further inward economicinvestment for communities in the area which is also part of an international route widely used by freight and holiday traffic.

Earlier this year work was fast-tracked so that key sections of this new junction would be available for traffic by 31 October. As a result, the east facing slip roads at the new junction, as well as the new A2070 link road, were open at the end of October.

Next year work will involve landscaping and completion of the non-motorised user route, these works may require some localised traffic management to safely access the works.

Highways England hope this information is helpful; we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and we apologise for any inconvenience these works may have caused. However, if you have any questions please contact us by visiting our scheme webpage at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/M20J10a


Homeplus site application

A planning application has been submitted for the site of the Homeplus Store at the junction of Beaver Road and Avenue Jacques Faucheux. The application follows a consultation event at the Stour Centre in May.

The proposal for 214 apartments, 9 townhouses, 3 commercial units plus a rooftop restaurant have been submitted by A Better Choice for Property Development Ltd, Ashford Borough Council’s property investment vehicle.

The application, case reference 19/01597/AS, can be examined on the Ashford Borough Council planning website: https://planning.ashford.gov.uk/Planning/details.aspx?systemkey=113996

J10A East facing sliproad opening

Click to enlarge

You may have heard recently that there have been some changes to our plan for opening the new junction 10a we are building on the M20 near Ashford, and I wanted to write to you to tell you what our plans are and what they mean for you.

The main thing that has changed is that we are fast-tracking work to have the new east facingslip roads at the new junction and the new A2070 link road open in time for 31 October. This will mean that drivers will be able to use the new coastbound entry and London-bound exit slip roads, and the new A2070 link road from this Thursday 31 October 2019.

Drivers will be able to access the M20 travelling eastbound using the new A2070 link road and M20 J10a. Drivers travelling westbound will also be able to exit the M20 at the new junction 10a and travel towards Ashford using the A2070 link road. Having these new links available for traffic is significant good news that will benefit thousands of drivers every day and improve access to and from Ashford. We accelerated this work to help
lorries move smoothly to and from Ashford Truck stop when the UK was expecting to leave the European Union on 31 October.

Opening these new links will also allow us to move on to the next stage of finishing the improvements. From early November the coast-bound slip road onto the M20 at junction 10 and the London-bound exit slip road will be permanently closed, allowing us to complete construction on the new west facing slip roads at junction 10a.

The A20 will remain on its current temporary alignment for the time being and will be connected to the new junction 10a in phases. The A20 will be connected to the east side of junction 10a on Monday night 4 November and will be open in both directions. Drivers will be able to exit at the new junction 10a and travel towards Sellindge, and will also be able to travel from Sellindge and access junction 10a. The A20 will be connected to the west side of junction 10a, via a oneway system. During this period, there will be no access to the A20 from junction 10a traveling towards junction 10. Drivers seeking to travel to junction 10 from junction 10a, will be directed to use the A2070 link road instead. This temporary road layout is shown in the diagram above.

The final changes should be complete – and the new junction fully open to traffic – in spring 2020.

I hope you agree that this is an exciting time for Ashford, as we take the final steps to open this major road improvement to traffic. We hope this information is helpful and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience this work may cause.

If you have any questions please contact us by visiting our scheme webpage at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/M20J10a.

M20 junction 10a Project Manager




Powergen plots to be sold

Layout of plots
Layout of Plots on Powergen site. Plots to be sold are those to East of Gasworks Lane

An application to Ashford Borough Council requesting the Council confirms that access works undertaken to Plots 1 and 2 of the Powergen site were undertaken lawfully to implement a start of the approved development of the site. The application has been submitted to confirm that the planning approval has not expired hence allowing the site to be sold with planning permission.

The application has been made Gerald Eve LLP on behalf of Victoria Road Developments Limited, which is in receivership.

ABC approved planning application 15/01671/AS giving detailed permission for 400 apartments on plots 1 and 2 and outline permission for 260 apartments and houses on plots 3,4 and 5 in November 2016. A condition attached to a later approval, 17/00018/AS, required the development of Plots 1 and 2 to be commenced within two years of the approval. The apartments were to be built to rent by Neighbour, a private rental company originating in Scandinavia.

The directors changed the name of the company owning the site, from Neighbour Ashford Limited to Victoria Road Developments, in 2018, perhaps indicating that they no longer wanted the Neighbour brand to be associated with the site. The company appointed receivers in August of this year at the behest of Lendinvest Security Trustees, who it is believed provided finance for the development.

Development of Plots 3,4 and 5 is being progressed by Quinn Estates for GRE Assets, a property company with headquarters in Oxford.