Published: 06:00, 22 February 2020
| Updated: 17:33, 22 February 2020
Hundreds more homes could be built on the edge of Ashford after plans emerged for another development next to the huge Chilmington Green site.
Hodson Developments - the company behind the first phase of the sprawling 5,750-home scheme - has revealed its intention to construct a further 600 properties on land next to the A28.
The project’s existence has come to light after Hodson lodged a screening opinion document, which marks the first step of the planning process.
It is a document asking the council whether or not any future planning application needs to include an environmental impact assessment.
Although an application is yet to be lodged, Hodson says it plans to build 600 homes featuring a mix of properties ranging from one to five-bed homes.
The farmland - which would be bound on two sides by the Chilmington scheme - is not in Ashford Borough Council (ABC)’s Local Plan, which is a planning blueprint setting out the sites that could be developed in the borough to 2030.
But Hodson says the 50-acre spot is not in an environmentally sensitive location and its proposal would “complement” the huge Chilmington Green scheme, which was approved in 2014.
If built, bosses say they would need to ensure an “appropriate setting is preserved” for the Grade II-listed Possingham Farmhouse which is already on the land.
They say developing the site would not impact “rare, protected, notable or other species”, adding vegetation on the land is “minor” and “improved landscaping will enhance the local environment and improve biodiversity”.
Hodson was expected to provide a security bond to Kent County Council to allow the authority to turn Chart Road between the tank and Matalan roundabouts into a dual carriageway.
But - despite scores of trees being felled to make way for the scheme in 2018 - the developer’s money will now be released once 400 homes are occupied at Chilmington, delaying the project until at least 2022.
In a statement, an Ashford Borough Council spokeswoman confirmed the Possingham Farm site is not in the authority’s Local Plan.
“This is not a planning application, it is a screening opinion to see whether an environmental impact assessment would be required as part of a planning application for this development,” she said.
“The opinion process makes no decision on the planning merits of a proposal.
“This would be considered under a planning application if one is submitted.
“The council has a five-year housing land supply as required by government.
“While this site is not allocated within the Local Plan, this does not preclude the developer from submitting a planning application for development on the land, to be considered as a windfall site.”
The Chilmington Green and Possingham Farm sites are just two spots earmarked for development to the south of Ashford.
On ABC’s planning portal, residents have already posted objection comments against the 600-home plan.
Amanda Adams, who lives in Great Chart, said: “I would object to this development on the basis of over-development in this area.
“The Chilmington Green development is big enough and the A28 is an inadequate road to accept more traffic.
“Farmland should not be further considered as building land when so much has been allocated already for housing in this area.”
Sharon Burstow, of Gorse Mead in Ashford, raised fears over congestion on Chart Road.
She said: “Before ABC considers any further expansion of development at Chilmington, might I suggest the council takes measures to alleviate traffic congestion now being experienced along the A28 towards Matalan roundabout and along Chart Road?
“Any further development at Chilmington could only exacerbate the problem.”
Sebastian Matter, of Singleton Hill, says the area contains “copious amounts of wildlife” and shouldn’t be “concreted over”.
“This must not even be considered without the postponed A28 widening fully completed,” he said.
“In addition, all schools, doctor surgeries and other services required under the Chilmington Green plans must be in place and usable prior to this being considered.
“Also, an impact assessment of Chilmington Green on the William Harvey Hospital should be carried out.
“A&E cannot cope as it is.”
Adam Revell, of Stubbs Cross, agreed, saying: “[It’s] 600 more houses without the infrastructure needed to support it.
“How about the A28 widening that has been postponed to some indeterminate time in the future?
“More traffic and accidents for Magpie Hall Road.”
KentOnline's sister title the Kentish Express contacted Hodson Developments for a comment, but did not receive a response.
For more information, or to comment, visit www.ashford.gov.uk and search for the 20/00001/EIA/AS reference.
More by this authorCharlie Harman