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Urban Tree Challenge branches out into Ashford

Published: 28/09/2020

6,666 trees will be coming to Chilmington Green in Ashford following a successful bid to the Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge. The trees are likely to be planted in the ground between December and February in an area currently referred to as Discovery Park, close to the new community being created there.

The path to making this application began in February this year with the submission made to the Forestry Commission at the end of May. The first phase of residents will be invited to be involved in the tree planting project to encourage a greater sense of local ownership.

Chilmington Green is part of the wider South of Ashford Garden Community, which also includes the site areas known as Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green developments. These latter two sites are currently under consideration at outline planning stage. This overall area was named as one of 19 new Garden Communities by the Government in 2019.

Cllr Neil Shorter, lead member for Chilmington Green, said: “Everyone associated with this project is to be congratulated. There were very specific guidelines to meet and it has taken a team effort from services across the council, the Chilmington Community Management Organisation (CMO) and especially the developers Hodson Developments to put this successful bid in place.”

In addition to contributing to carbon reduction the hope is for the area to have biodiversity net gain by creating habitats and wildlife corridors. It is planned that green corridors will run from the sites and provide links for flora and fauna with existing countryside, greenspace and woodland surrounding Chilmington.

There are also plans to innovate in the area with community orchards that can complement the more natural woodland and it is the intention of the project to include some specimen, landmark trees. Aspire Landscape Management will provide the practical expertise and resources to plant and care for the trees.

Cllr Andrew Buchanan, portfolio holder for environmental services at Ashford Borough Council, said: “The tree planting success is key to helping the borough achieve wider tree planting targets as part of our carbon neutrality strategy and will contribute towards the council’s environmental ambitions set out in our corporate Recovery Plan.

“This is a truly magnificent achievement. On behalf of officers across several services that have worked so hard to secure such a really significant and meaningful environmental contribution to a part of our delightful borough.”