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Plans for hundreds of homes on land next to John Wallis Academy in Ashford

By Georgia Woolf

Contentious plans to build more than 200 homes to cover the cost of a new multi-million pound primary school have been formally submitted.

An outline planning application to construct 210 properties, 36 care units and a new children’s centre on land off Stanhope Road, next to the John Wallis Academy, has been lodged with Ashford Borough Council (ABC).

Kent County Council (KCC) is behind the huge redevelopment, which bosses say will recover the cost of building the new £4.75 million primary on the secondary school site.

The Oak Field next to Courtside is earmarked for development
The Oak Field next to Courtside is earmarked for development

If the scheme is approved, the homes will be built on the current Ray Allen children’s centre site and former Linden Grove Primary School land.

The plot has been made available for development since pupils moved into the new primary school building on the main John Wallis Academy site in January.

Controversially, the replacement Ray Allen children’s centre will be built on the Oak Field next to the Courtside sports facility, with the 36 care units also planned to go on the existing open space.

Cllr Dara Farrell (Lab), who lives in Luddenham Close near to the proposed development, is opposed to the scheme, which features no affordable housing.

“I am angry about the whole thing,” the KCC member for Ashford South said.

An artist's impression showing how the homes could look
An artist's impression showing how the homes could look

“There’s no social or affordable housing proposed in the scheme.

“I am entirely supportive of the new primary school - we all know Linden Grove needed to be reprovided.

“But national government should be paying for the provision of a primary school - we shouldn’t be building on open land to fund it.”

Cllr Farrell, who fought to get a sensory room included in the redevelopment of the Ray Allen centre, says the community will lose out.

A mix of one to four-bed properties are proposed as a mix of houses and flats, with buildings set to go up to four storeys in height.

Where the homse will go (7248765)
Where the homse will go (7248765)

Cllr Farrell added: “This would not have happened the way it has if it would have been in a village like Charing or Biddenden.

“You can barely swing a cat in most gardens in Stanhope - that is why the fields are there for people to use.”

Ward member for Stanhope Cllr Brendan Chilton (Lab) says he intends to fight the development "until the very end".

He said: “We want to save our playing field - it has been open to the community since the estate opened.

“The parish council is against it and so is the residents’ association.

If the scheme is approved the homes would be built on the site of the Ray Allen Centre
If the scheme is approved the homes would be built on the site of the Ray Allen Centre

“There is near universal opposition to the taking away of the playing field.

“It is the largest piece of open green space in South Ashford.”

A KCC spokesman responded to the criticism of the plan, which includes making the former Linden Grove playing fields open to the public.

He said: “Careful consideration has been given as part of the masterplan to ensure that the local community has access to useable outdoor space which has been included as part of the wider development.

“The Oak Field unfortunately was not suitable for this purpose and is the intended location of a new children’s centre and an extra care facility.

Cllr Dara Farrell
Cllr Dara Farrell

“These buildings have been located sensitively to maximise the remaining available open space and to respond to the natural characteristics of the site.

“The sale proceeds from the former school site will have enabled the delivery of a new primary school, a care facility and new children’s centre, all of which are significant investment for the local community and will provide improved facilities.

“In this instance the scheme is unable to support an affordable housing allocation.

“The new primary school was recently completed and will be utilised by many generations of children in the area.”

To view the planning application online visit www.ashford.gov.uk and search for the 18/01861/AS reference.

The deadline for public comments is Saturday, March 2.

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