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Plans for Olympic size firing range in Ashford could be postponed again

ByCaitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

A six-year effort to build an Olympic size firing area could be halted again following a complaint.

The top team at Ashford Borough Council are due to discuss the future of a rifle range as a resident claims the land should be open for the public to enjoy.

Ashford and District Rifle Range shared their plans to build a 50m outdoor small bore target range off Chart Road back in 2013.

Ashford and District Rifle Range, Chart Road, Great Chart. Picture: Matt Bristow
Ashford and District Rifle Range, Chart Road, Great Chart. Picture: Matt Bristow

This was six months after the cabinet outlined their intentions to lease the land to the rifle club for 50 years.

However, councillors on the planning committee deferred the original proposal through fears "accidents will happen" and concerns over noise for neighbours and pets two years later.

The firing range, with a covered firing point and backstop, finally received approval from the planning team in February 2016.

As the land is owned by the council, there must be a public consultation before it is "disposed".

A concerned resident wrote to the council claiming handing this land over to the rifle club would be breaking the law, which council officers dispute.

A decision will be made next week
A decision will be made next week

In a report by facilities development manager, Ben Moyle, he wrote: "It is recognised that this area of land is subject to the Open Spaces Act 1906 and the Order referred to in the case does not apply.

"The Ashford and District Rifle Club is a registered charity and has an open access policy providing and encouraging new members.

"The use of the land as an extension to the rifle club continues to meet the definition of open space as used for recreation purposes as defined in the Act."

Despite the resident's objections, council officers recommend the plans proceed "based on the community benefit of enhancing the Club’s facilities to Olympic standard, the fact that the small area of land is overgrown scrubland and that there is only one objection to the scheme."

Cabinet member will decide if they will follow the officer's lead in the council chamber next Thursday.

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