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Ashford: Fears town centre becoming 'swamped' by one-bed flats

By Dan Wright

There are fears Ashford town centre is being “swamped” by one-bedroom flats after plans for a new block with no car parking were approved.

Developers are to extend the Trafalgar House building at the bottom of Bank Street, erecting a six-storey corner extension with retail space on the ground floor and 14 one-bedroom flats above.

But Godinton Park councillor Bernard Heyes (Con) – who voted against the plan when it was discussed and approved by Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee last month – says he is worried too many one-bed apartments are being built in the town.

The Trafalgar House development
The Trafalgar House development

He said: “I am very concerned about the proliferation of one-bed and studio flats. It looks like the town centre will be swamped by them and I think we need more family homes.

“There should be an element of one-bed properties and I think they are required, but they seem to be taking over the whole of the town centre.”

Cllr Heyes believes the town needs a better mix of properties, with more options for people to buy, adding: “I do not really think they are going to help the sustainability of Ashford.

Flats are being built on the former Powergen site
Flats are being built on the former Powergen site

“Although the town centre isn’t really the place for lots of family houses, if we are going to have these one-bed apartments we should at least have properties with two bedrooms.

“Developers build what they think is going to sell, but I do not think it is sustainable… we need a mix of properties to attract a mix of people.

“I did think it would improve, but it is getting worse.”

Cllr Bernard Heyes
Cllr Bernard Heyes

The Trafalgar House scheme will feature a restaurant or shop on the ground floor.

Cllr Heyes raised concerns over a total lack of car parking, with developers offering no space for vehicles in their application.

'I think we need more family homes...' - Cllr Bernard Heyes

The former Money Shop and Ashford Tool Centre buildings have already been knocked down to make way for the development.

Cllr Heyes' concerns come as developers updated striking plans for 14 new flats in New Street.

One single bed studio flat, five one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom properties are proposed.

If approved, the development would overlook the roundabout and go almost opposite flats set to be built on the Prince Albert site.

BTL Developments Ltd originally submitted the plans to Ashford Borough Council in February last year, but has now tweaked the scheme.

How New Street looks now
How New Street looks now

Developers had previously proposed just nine parking spaces, but are now offering 14 after pushing the buildings away from the road to make more space.

They have also updated the layout and design, saying four blocks of accommodation are connected by 'communal circulation spaces'.

Kent Avenue resident Robert Parker described the scheme as a "sick eyesore" in an objection comment sent to the council.

How New Street could look
How New Street could look

The developers say drivers could access the homes via a track which runs to the site from Kent Avenue.

In a statement, BTL Developments said: "The proposed scheme would make effective use of a vacant and unkempt site close to the town centre.

"The site has a prominent location beside one of the main routes into town."

To view the scheme, visit www.ashford.gov.uk and search for the 17/00264/AS application.

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