Published: 14:01, 06 June 2020
| Updated: 17:45, 06 June 2020
A controversial housing development will be built despite refusal by the council.
Nine houses will now be built on the land, after the Planning Inspectorate overruled a refusal of the outline proposal by the Ashford Borough Council (ABC) Planning Committee.
The club welcomed the news on Facebook, writing: "Ashford Hockey Club is delighted to confirm that the planning inspector has granted planning permission on appeal for our application to build nine houses and two new football pitches at Ball Lane.
"This means that the club can now progress its ambitious plans to safeguard the future of hockey and junior football at Ball Lane.
"Our immediate priority is to replace the astroturf pitch. We are hoping this may take place in the summer of 2020.
"Further details regarding the construction of the new football pitches, sale of the development land and the refurbishment of the clubhouse will be provided in the future once detailed plans for the various phases of our project have been agreed."
Money gained from selling the dwellings is seen as essential in allowing £220,000 of upgrades to ensure the astro-turf pitch is up to safety standards.
Two pitches will be installed on land over the road from the main site, an agricultural field which is popular with walkers and susceptible to flooding.
This and concerns over the safety of children having to walk along a busy, twisting road prompted ABC councillors to refuse the plan by 10 votes to seven.
However last night's announcement comes after the Planning Inspectorate found the proposed development complies with the council's planning policy.
A report from the appeal process states: "The site is over 3 kilometres away from the town centre of Ashford. However, it falls within Kennington, which can reasonably be described as a suburb.
"This includes a range of services and facilities, including schools and various shops, clustered around the Faversham Road, the Street and Ulley Road.
"I observed that these can be easily accessed on foot from the Canterbury Road, along a reasonably level path.
"The council’s submissions refer to the Canterbury Road site having a rural character.
"Whilst it does have an open, undeveloped appearance due to its use for sport and recreation, it abuts a busy road, with residential development on two of its sides.
"Policy HOU5 of the Ashford Borough Local Plan is particularly relevant in these circumstances. It specifically permits residential development adjoining or close to the existing built-up confines of Ashford, where certain criteria are met.
"Whilst players would need to cross Ball Lane to get from the clubhouse to the new pitches, this is a quiet no-through road which primarily serves as an access point for a limited number of residential properties and the hockey club.
"It essentially functions as a shared surface for cars and pedestrians. In this context, vehicle speeds are not high.
"The visibility across Ball Lane, between the hockey club entrance and the path to the new pitches, would be appropriate."
It went on to highlight bus routes ensuring increased traffic levels are low, and that the suggested designs are in-keeping with surrounding houses.
Ashford Borough Council has been approached for comment.