Published: 09:06, 23 May 2013
Plans for up to 5,750 houses, schools and a new high street at Chilmington Green have taken a big step closer to becoming reality.
Ashford Borough Council’s Chilmington Green Area Action Plan, which outlines the scale and nature of development that can take place in the area, has been approved by a planning inspector.
The document, which stretches to 160 pages, lays out how much housing should be built alongside the creation of a countryside park, a secondary school, four primary schools, a supermarket and a high street.
Three months after his initial two-day examination, inspector Martin Pike declared that the plan was “sound” earlier this week.
He said understood why a number of residents, who formed the Keep Chilmington Green campaign, opposed the development being built around their hamlet in the open countryside and noted their an 8,000-signature petition which was presented to the Prime Minister.
“These concerns are legitimate and understandable, for the inevitable harm caused by the loss of a broad swathe of countryside and the effect on the hamlet of Chilmington Green and surrounding communities are significant adverse impacts of the scheme and should not be dismissed lightly," he said.
However, he said government advice stated that local opposition was not grounds for rejecting a plan unless it is founded on valid planning reasons.
Mr Pike added: “In this case the planning merits of the urban extension were thoroughly explored at Core Strategy stage and found, in principle, to outweigh the loss of countryside and the changes to the local area and its communities.”
The leader of the Ashford Independent party said he was saddened by the decision.
Cllr Peter Davison, pictured right, said: “I’m sad that it has been approved, although on technical grounds I can understand it.
“The petition of 8,000 signatures seems to have been ignored and the local referendum revealing 84% of people against has also been ignored.
“Overall, the development is not needed, and if it proceeds it will blight thousands of lives in that area; in Shadoxhurst, in Singleton and Chilmington itself, and will have a huge impact on those people who use the A28.”
The Chilmington Green developers – including Ward Homes, Pentland Homes, Barratt Homes, Hodson Developments and Jarvis Homes – submitted outline plans for the 'garden city' in August last year.
A full application is expected to be submitted once the area action plan is adopted by Ashford Borough Council.
For full story see this week's Kentish Express.