Good progress being made on South of Ashford Garden CommunityPublished: 20/09/2023
Significant progress has been made on the South Ashford Garden Community (SAGC) strategy and vision since its inception in 2020, including several ‘early wins’ for this new and growing community.
Cabinet members were taken through a report sharing some of the achievements, including successfully bidding and receiving ongoing investment in the project from the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the production of a Sustainable Transport Strategy.
The vision document was created after widespread public engagement through surveys, workshops, focus groups and online events. All developers building houses at Chilmington Green and the applicants for Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green were included in this consultation, along with Kent County Council and the affected Parishes. It was presented to and adopted by Cabinet in December 2020.
The SAGC received garden village status in 2019. It includes the Chilmington Green, Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green developments. Chilmington Green received planning permission in 2014 while the other two sites are moving through the planning process.
Other progress on the strategy includes the creation of the SAGC brand and website to be used as a platform for consultation, communication and knowledge sharing within the community. Various community engagement events have also been held.
Plans for this year include shaping how residents will be able to travel through and around The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Park, the creation of a community space, further community engagement and discussions about future health provision, nutrient neutrality mitigation and bio-diversity net gain for the development.
Cabinet noted the good progress of delivery in the garden community despite challenging circumstances and the success of the team in securing a further significant sum of funding to support delivery. They also endorsed the Sustainable Transport Strategy as a key document in supporting the sustainability agenda for the council and in particular in ensuring the Garden Community meets the ambitious aspirations of all those involved.
Cllr Neil Bell, portfolio holder for planning and development at Ashford Borough Council, said: “It is clear that good progress has been made to date on the actions which underpin the SAGC Vision & Strategy. Producing a Sustainable Transport Strategy was one of the key actions and we can see the team is already implementing one of the recommendations from this, which is to upgrade public rights of way across the SAGC, helping to improve access for new and existing residents.
“These upgrades will be accompanied by the promotion of walking and cycling, helping to support the SAGC agenda of being a healthy and active community. Active travel improvements are the sort of actions which the Council can take leadership on, demonstrating our important role in brokering solutions to public infrastructure and early community development. These solutions have been greatly helped by DLUHC’s funding of the SAGC as part of its Garden Communities programme.
“By demonstrating innovation and unlocking housing delivery year on year, we hope DLUHC will maintain its investment in the SAGC for more years to come. As one of the largest housing sites in Ashford, the Council should continue to play a key role in overcoming infrastructure challenges to housing delivery.”