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According to the Government, since 1998, the ratio of average house prices to average earnings has more than doubled. That means the most basic of human needs – a safe, secure home to call your own – isn’t just a distant dream for millions of people. It’s a dream that’s moving further and further away.

As demand for homes outstrips supply, they’re faced with ever-increasing rents – the average couple in the private rented sector now send roughly half their salary to their landlord each month making it nigh on impossible to save for a deposit.

For this reason, the current Government is trying to support Small to Midsize Enterprise (SME) house builders to bridge the gap in housing delivery. Their aim is to see 300,000 homes built on average per year across England. Bringing forward developments such as Chilmington Green will help to fill the gap in housing provision, but it must also be a great place to live, work and play.  

It was with the Garden Community designation in 2019 that development partners, Parishes, Ward Councillors and community members began discussing how Chilmington Green would need to look beyond its redline boundaries to future sites which were allocated in the Ashford Local Plan 2030. There’s good reason for community members to look at the South Ashford and consider the challenges such developments may bring, and also the potential benefits.

For these reasons a number of public events and activities were organised between 2019 and 2021. An outline of this programme, timeline and associated publications are provided below. 

Setting a Vision for the South of Ashford Garden Community

Between March 2019 and January 2021, Ashford Borough Council organised a series of consultation activities to help write a Five Year Vision & Strategy for the South of Ashford Garden Community (SAGC). Local people in the Wards, Parishes and wider areas most likely to be impacted by the proposed developments within the Garden Community were asked to take part. 

The aim was to produce a Vision & Strategy which could join up the proposed developments with the existing communities, including the new residents currently moving into Chilmington Green. Through workshops, surveys, focus groups, webinars and a dedicated webpage, local input was collected and used to build up an illustration of this new community.

An example of the questions being asked included: What does the future hold for rural Ashford, its towns, villages and the growing communities of new housing? How can this growth be nurtured and sustained for the benefit of all residents, new and old? What kind of governance arrangements should be in place? How will this new community be low carbon and exemplary in terms of health and wellbeing?

Two public workshops that considered a masterplan for all three developments with developers in the room proved to be a useful exercise. Participants had plans in front of them which they could layer their own drawings and ideas. Common themes and priorities were put together in a Report Back document which went on to influence changes to the developer's proposals. View report on SAGC workshops of September 2019 [pdf] 6MB.

Further engagement continued during 2020 when the Covid-19 Pandemic was sadly becoming part of daily life. Ashford Borough Council asked local people to share their stories of lockdown, how their lives were impacted and what they felt needed to improve in response to the pandemic. This became the starting point for a series of focus groups and a one-off live event held entirely online.

At this event, some of these stories where shared alongside presentations about the SAGC and a discussion about how a vision can bring together different partners to ensure our communities are better designed to meet all needs in the best and worst of times. You can watch a recording of the event here.

Key themes from the online activities and the earlier workshops became the building blocks of a Five Year Vision & Strategy to guide developments such as Chilmington Green and any future proposed developments within the area as a form of quality control. It set the bar for quality placemaking, ecological preservation, healthy living and community-led governance.

Ashford Borough Council officers pulled this input together with the themes and illustrations to produce a Five Year Vision & Strategy, which was formally adopted by Cabinet members in December 2020. View SAGC Exec Summary Landscape report [pdf] 2586KB.

Timeline to creating the Vision & Strategy for the SAGC

March 2019 - December 2020 Timeline of Events



12 March 2019 

First Public Workshop held at Homelands Football Club

April to July 2019

Design revisions to Court Lodge 

30 September 2019

Second Public Workshop held at Homelands Football Club

12 November 2019

Issue of Report Back on workshops and next steps

2 September - 2 October 2020

Public survey on feedback process and anything further they wanted to see in the Garden Community

7, 9 and 10 September 2020

Community Focus Groups – Small groups representing voices from across the South of Ashford area gather to tackle specific topics relating to the SAGC.

17 September 2020 

SAGC Community Stakeholder Group – Local residents meet with ABC Planning Officers, Parish and Ward Councillors to discuss local issues and wider SAGC planning.

25 September 2020

Our Garden Village - a virtual event to hear local stories from lockdown, the good and the bad, and what might be needed most with the arrival of a new community, a garden community to the South of Ashford.

9 November 2020

Draft Vision & Strategy made available for public review

19 November 2020

SAGC Community Stakeholder Group – Local residents meet with ABC Planning Officers, Parish and Ward Councillors to discuss local issues and wider SAGC planning

30 November 2020

Final issue of Vision & Strategy submitted to Cabinet

17 December 2020

Presentation of Vision & Strategy to Cabinet, where it received formal adoption

2021 - 2025

Implementation of Vision & Strategy's Action Plan


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