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Plans for Chilmington Green development of 5,750 houses approved by Ashford Borough Council special planning committee

Councillors have voted in favour of a controversial development of almost 6,000 homes just outside Ashford.

Members of Ashford Borough Council planning committee approved the plans after a special meeting lasting almost five hours. Ten councillors voted in favour of the plans, with two against.

Opening the meeting at 6pm on Wednesday, committee chairman Cllr Mike Bennett (Con) described it as "the largest ever application brought before this council."

Four people spoke in favour of the plans, with 10 against. Concerns include loss of farmland and inadequate infrastructure.

Councillors and members of the public at Chilmington Green planning meeting. Picture: Gary Browne

Planning agent Bob Sellwood tried to reassure objectors, promising developers would spend £50 million on transport and £45 million on schools.

The Rev Tim Wilson, vicar of Singleton and Great Chart, told neighbours not to fear the new development but to "work together to get best schools, roads, amenities for current and new residents".

The Rev Tim Wilson urged residents to work together

But Mick Carr, who has campaigned against the plans, said people have told him they will lay down in front of diggers to stop the development.

Resident Karen Hopkin told the meeting: "We must stop this rape of the countryside" while another opponent, Peter Williamson described the proposals as a "horrendous carbuncle".

Speaker Mick Carr warned that people would 'lay down in front of diggers'

Speaking in favour of the plans, Cllr Amanda Hodgkinson (Con) said: "These houses are needed otherwise our children and grandchildren will have to move away from Ashford as adults".

Fellow Conservative members Jessamy Blanford and Neil Shorter also spoke in support but said they had concerns over traffic.

Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson (Con) told the meeting: "We're determined to make Chilmington Green a special place where future residents are proud to live, work and raise families."

Ashford Independent group leader Cllr Peter Davison said the development should be led by jobs and infrastructure, warning: "This will impact on thousands of lives forever".

As well as 5,750 homes, the outline planning application for Chilmington Green involves a countryside park, a secondary school, four primary schools, a supermarket and a new high street and market square on rural land to the south west of Ashford.

An artist's impression of how the market square at Chilmington Green might look. Picture: Michael Taylor

The Keep Chilmington Green campaign group has already sent an 8,000-signature petition to Downing Street demanding the government stops the 'garden city' development while other residents have spoken out in favour of the proposals.

Ashford council and a government planning inspector have already given the Chilmington Green Area Action Plan their seal of approval and developers Barratt Homes, Ward Homes, Jarvis Homes, Pentland Homes and Hodson Developments Ltd have signed a document demonstrating an interest in the scheme.

The council has previously claimed the development could create 1,000 jobs over the next 25 years.

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