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Ashford Lipscomb Fiat dealership in Chart Road to be replaced by 65 affordable apartments

A 65-apartment complex will be built on a car dealership site after councillors lauded the promise of affordability.

The flats, destined for the spot currently housing Lipscomb Ashford in Chart Road, were approved at a virtual council meeting last week.

The apartments on the Lipscomb site will each have their own balcony or garden. Picture: Clague Architects
The apartments on the Lipscomb site will each have their own balcony or garden. Picture: Clague Architects

Lipscomb's Ashford branch will be closing permanently after 25 years in the town, with the business expanding its Chartham dealership near Canterbury.

All apartments will be affordable and private gardens or balconies will be attached to each, alongside a communal green space for residents.

Parking will also be on offer, with 68 spaces for the 65 dwellings, which will be built in three blocks.

An access road leading to Chart Road - one of Ashford's busiest routes - will also be removed, a point praised by ward representative Cllr Dara Farrell (Lab).

In an opening speech, he said: "I do generally welcome this application.

The development site neighbours the busy Chart Road
The development site neighbours the busy Chart Road

"I think central to this proposal is the affordable housing.

"The nature of town centre developments not having any affordable homes means we need to celebrate small wins like this."

Labour's Cllr Brendan Chilton was the first to speak, saying Cllr Farrell "took the words right out of my mouth" before proposing the motion to approve the scheme.

Cllr Bernard Heyes (Con) had concerns over the height of the five-storey Block C, and also about the site's position.

He continued: "In essence this is an industrial estate and I think it's a great shame that we think it's appropriate to put affordable housing in such a low-quality location.

Lipscomb's Ashford branch sells Fiats but will be closing after 25 years in the town
Lipscomb's Ashford branch sells Fiats but will be closing after 25 years in the town

"There's a major pumping station near Block A which is used for pumping water out of the high speed rail link tunnel, and just opposite in Bridge Road there is planning permission for an electric generator which will be audible even further away than these flats.

"Another fact that concerns me is the extremely close proximity of these blocks on the east side to the railway line, which is on the same level."

These views were not shared by Cllr Paul Clokie (Con) who seconded the approval motion, adding: "It's a very good scheme and I think we ought to particularly thank the owners of the site to make the land available in whatever way it's very nice to see this type of development come forward."

All 65 apartments - which range from one to three bedrooms, will be affordable housing. Picture: Clague Architects
All 65 apartments - which range from one to three bedrooms, will be affordable housing. Picture: Clague Architects

Cllr Euan Anckorn (Lab) said he would have seconded and applauded the affordable aspect.

Ashford Independent Cllr David Ledger appreciated many parts of the scheme - including the use of a brownfield site - but questioned whether the amount of parking would be sufficient.

His biggest concern was the issue of apartments overlooking the railway and Chart Road.

Conservative Cllr Neil Shorter praised the removal of the Chart Road access but suggested the Carlton Road entry point would still lead to increased traffic on the tank roundabout linking the two roads.

Some councillors fear the noise mitigation measures and parking won't be sufficient. Picture: Clague Architects
Some councillors fear the noise mitigation measures and parking won't be sufficient. Picture: Clague Architects

He also suggested evergreen trees be employed to reduce noise coming to the site year-round, but Cllr Heyes queried the efficacy of trees as sound barriers and motioned to defer the application for investigation into further noise mitigation.

A council officer noted that enhanced, sound-reducing window glazing facing the road could be added as a condition.

A further condition has also been recommended for the applicant to produce a parking strategy, and another condition was suggested to stop works access onto Chart Road being used as parking.

Only one motion was seconded - to approve the scheme - which garnered 14 votes for, one abstention and one ballot against.

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