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How Otterpool Park will take shape over the next 30 years if approved

ByMolly Mileham-Chappell

Developers have revealed where they plan to start working first if proposals for 10,000 homes are given the go-ahead.

The Otterpool Park greenfield site project, proposed by landowners Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Cozumel Estates, would be delivered in phases over three decades. The outline planning application seeks permission for the first 8,500 homes.

Built around Folkestone Racecourse, the development would gradually connect villages including Westenhanger, Lympne and Sellindge, with green space ‘buffers’ and 10,000 homes in total.

Otterpool Park (8014009)
Otterpool Park (8014009)

If approved, bosses hope construction on the 765-hectare site will begin next year and it has been forecast that land around Westenhanger railway station and Newingreen will receive treatment first, creating an area called the Gateway.

Documents reveal that it would be located to the north and east of the site and would include new infrastructure connecting to the M20 and a new alignment of the A20.

A design and access statement produced by the developer’s agent, Arcadis, reads: “While the proposed garden settlement is located close to the M20 and high-speed railway, it is poorly connected to them.

“The A20 runs through the site and the local road network connections namely Otterpool Lane, Aldington Road, Harringe Lane, Stone Street and Hythe Road are constrained by various factors.”

There would also be retail and business space and a transport interchange, as well as housing.

At the same time as development at Westenhanger, the papers show homes would be built to the west in the Otterpool Slopes area, with public transport and cycling routes linking it to the Gateway.

These developments are expected to happen within the first five years of the project.

After this, Upper Otterpool and land near Lympne would begin to see development after five years, with areas like Sellindge seeing the majority of building around 15 years into the plan. After this time, other gaps would be filled, with development to the south and north of the site being the last to be developed.

How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002344)
How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002344)

‘Walkable neighbourhoods’ are designed to be within close proximity of games and play areas, schools and allotments.

The statement adds: “It is intended that there would be a bus stop within 400 metres of the majority of homes.”

The plans recently received funding from the government and Homes England. In February 2019, the Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government pledged £1.25m to the project, the largest sum of the 21 proposed garden town schemes.

The Otterpool Park board is now planning additional public exhibitions for members of the public to view the papers in greater detail and comment. The application is now open for public consultation until Monday, May 27.

How the areas are divided

The site would split into different 'areas', with some having their own 'local centres'.

The Westenhanger Castle area would 'feature a carefully considered public open space parkland that draws inspiration from the former historic use of the site'.

The 'Gateway' would be where train passengers step off into the development. It would be a key location for business and help connect people to other parts of the Otterpool Park via public transport.

The statement adds: "A larger town centre will be created in a central location within the settlement within 10 minutes walking distance to the railway station and transport interchange."

What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002350)
What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002350)

The Town Centre would be split into four quarters. These are named the Local Quarter, the Market Quarter, the Knowledge Quarter and the Lakeside Quarter.

The 'Riverside' area 'extends from the open space of the Westenhanger Castle Park to the East Stour stream'. There would also be homes here as well as trails for landscaped walks.

Otterpool Slopes 'creates a transition between Riverside and Woodland' near to Otterpool Manor. Housing built here would be separated by buffer areas of hedgerow.

Meanwhile, The Hillside settlement is focused on the historic Barrow Hill to the west of the site. Homes here would be grouped around a central green, while housing in the 'Woodland' settlement would be in several 'clusters'.

There are also 'Edges', which would have a smaller housing density, as they sit alongside the border of two different habitats.

Homes

Original plans for 12,000 homes were reduced by 2,000 in the masterplan, with a council report saying half of them would have to be flats if that many were built.

Of the total 10,000 homes proposed, 8,700 would be residential on around 215 hectares with 1300 'extra care' housing units for older people on 12 hectares.

Among the finer details are plans for a hotel, two GP health centres and one treatment centre. Space has also been allocated for dining, offices, convenience stores, sports halls and pavilions.

There would be 13 nurseries and six primary schools, as well as secondary and further education facilities.

How Westenghanger Park at Otterpool Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002342)
How Westenghanger Park at Otterpool Park could look. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement (8002342)

The design and access statement reads: "Schools would be provided close to local centres to optimise walkable neighbourhoods, approximately 800m from all homes."

Within the first 8500 homes proposed, 7850 would be residential on 200 hectares with 650 care housing units on six hectares.

The homes would be available on different plans, such as shared owners, social rent and private rental. There would also be starter homes and care homes.

They are largely a mix of semi-detached, townhouses, flats and terraced properties.

Affordable housing is expected to make up 22% of the homes.

Green space

It was initially believed around 40% of the site would be green space but new documents show the figure is now expected to be over 50%.

This includes six hectares of equipped play areas, 50 hectares of general amenities, parks and gardens, 160 hectares of natural areas, hedgerows and woodland, five hectares of primary school pitches, 10 hectares of allotments and 92 hectares of sustainable drainage.

The figure excludes private gardens.

In addition, existing waterways have been retained, including the Racecourse Lake and it is thought rainwater could be used for some household functions like flushing toilets.

Sustainability appears to be a big theme throughout the planning documents, adding that buses would be only electric and there would also be public electric vehicle charging points.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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