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Man-made beach plan for Ashford water sports centre

Could this be Ashford? Well, no, it's the Copacabana in Rio!
Could this be Ashford? Well, no, it's the Copacabana in Rio!

Could this be Ashford? Well, no, it's the Copacabana.

by James Scott

Tourists could soon be flocking to Ashford with buckets and
spades if draft plans for a water sports centre with a man-made
beach get the go-ahead.

Conningbrook Lakes andthe Julie Rose stadium.
Conningbrook Lakes andthe Julie Rose stadium.

A scheme
including a sandy beach, boat house, sailing facilities and a
restaurant at the Conningbrook Lake in Willesborough has been put
forward as one of three new parks to be created outside the town

The plans for the three parks have been laid out in the core
strategy of the Local Development Framework, meeting a need for the
amount of public open space to increase by 900 hectares in the next
20 years.

The lake behind the Julie Rose Stadium in Kennington Road has been earmarked as an area with potential for water sports by Ashford Borough Council.

Owners and aggregates company, the Brett Group, who began
quarrying the site for sand and gravel in 1979, said their plans
were to develop and restore the quarry so it could be used for
leisure activities.

The company's development manager Mike Courts said: "We're
proposing more water-based recreation such us fishing and sailing
and we're waiting for that restoration scheme to be finally

The scheme notes that for the lake to become a water sports
facility of regional significance it would need works to make it
longer and deeper costing about £2million.

The estimated cost of creating sufficient access to the lake is
at least £730,000 and utilities, including a sewage system, would
cost in the region of £545,000 to £1million.

Ashford's Future, the group responsible for overseeing the future development of the town, is conducting public research to get people's views on what facilities the lake and parks should offer.

Ashford council spokesman Sinead Mason said: "It's very early
days but the strategic parks are part of a future plan we're
looking at. This isn't an official public consultation, Ashford's
Future just want to know what people would like to see in the

The other proposed parks, which will all be comparable in size
to the Royal parks in London, include the Discovery Park at
Chilmington Green, a family-orientated park incorporating the
Singleton Environment Centre, sports field, formal gardens, play
park and an organic farm and arts centre.

The third, the Stour Riverside Park, in south east Ashford will
follow the Stour River and focus on nature walks and activities
that encourage biodiversity.

The parks will be connected by a 'green necklace' of open spaces
around the town, including cycle paths and bridle ways.

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