Chilmington Green Area Action Plan
The Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (AAP) provides a policy framework to deliver a major urban extension to Ashford of up to 5,750 homes and 1,000 jobs, over a period of twenty five years or so. It contains policies on several topics, such as community infrastructure, transport improvements, ecology and what character the different parts of the site should have.
Following Public Examination by an Independent Planning Inspector, Martin Pike BA MA MRTPI, the Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (AAP) Local Plan was found sound, and on the 18 July 2013 was formally adopted as policy by Ashford Borough Council.
The adopted Chilmington Green AAP together with the Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment adoption statement are available below. A list of Main modifications to the AAP, made after Examination can be found in Appendix 1 of the Inspector's Report.
Why is development happening at Chilmington Green?
The principle of development at Chilmington Green is established in the council’s Core Strategy. The Core Strategy was ‘adopted’ in 2008 following the production of a wide range of evidence which set out where growth could be accommodated within the borough, a period of public consultation and a formal ‘Examination in Public’ by an independent, government appointed planning Inspector. View the Core Strategy 2008 [pdf] 5MB.
The change in government in May 2010 has lead to the removal of centrally designated housing targets, but the principle of development at Chilmington Green remains established in the Core Strategy. The focus now is to plan for the creation of a great place to live. This will involve looking very closely at the density, design and layout of development, types of land uses and the best range of local facilities that can be achieved.
Chilmington Green design code supplementary planning document
The Chilmington Green Design Code Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) sets out design advice and guidance for planning applications within Chilmington Green.
The SPD is a comprehensive document that looks at all aspects of the development. It seeks to create neighbourhoods of distinct character and identity; incorporate high quality urban design; be well integrated with the rural landscape surroundings; to implement the Quality Charter; and the management and maintenance of well-designed public realm.
Public consultation took place in April 2016, and the final document is expected to be published by the end of the year.
+ Why is the council proceeding with so much housing at Chilmington Green when there are a large number of brownfield sites in Ashford that have not yet been developed?
The principle of development at Chilmington Green is established within the council's adopted Core Strategy and even though Ashford is no longer a designated 'growth area', there remains a need for additional houses up to 2030 and beyond. These homes will help support jobs and sustain local services, as well as cater for the changing needs of Ashford's current residents. Not all of these homes can be provided on brownfield sites within Ashford, therefore other sites will be needed.
Chilmington Green was identified through the Core Strategy as being suitable - a position tested and supported by an Independent Planning Inspector. The Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (AAP) has gone through public consultation and examined by an Independent Planning Inspector.
Traffic congestion and the impact of the development on the surrounding road network will be a key consideration when determining the planning application.
The transport assessment which has been submitted with the planning application details the transportation and highways implications of developing the site, but the details of exactly what improvements will be needed will be determined by Kent County Council (KCC) in their role as the local highway authority. The transport assessment submitted with the application states that KCC's preferred option is as follows:
- Improving the alignment of the Matalan roundabout
- Widening of the A28 road bridge over the railway, north of Matalan roundabout
- The bridge widening will allow the entire section of the A28 between Matalan and Tank roundabouts to be duelled
- Signalisation of the A28/Brunswick Road junction
- A28/Loudon Way signalised junction modified to offer greater capacity, with an increase in lanes to facilitate greater turning and straight-ahead movements, plus full turning movements
- Signalises Hilton Road to become exit only at its junction with the A28
- Improving the alignment of the Tank roundabout
In addition a range of other road improvements will be necessary including the creation of a new road network within the development, the creation of attractive pedestrian and cycle routes, the provision of a regular and efficient bus service connecting the development with the town centre and traffic calming measures on the existing local routes so that their attractive rural character can be maintained.
The draft AAP requires development at Chilmington Green to be self-sufficient and sustainable, with each phase providing the required social and physical infrastructure both on-site and off-site. Four primary schools and a secondary school will be accommodated within the development, as will sufficient indoor sports and community leisure provision.
Social and community facilities will be provided in accommodation in the District Centre, possibly with additional space for community and social care facilities in the proposed Local Centres. The phasing and delivery of these facilities and/or funding to support such services will be agreed with the relevant service provider through the planning application process and should planning permission be granted, included in the S106 Agreement.
The council is committed to ensuring that Chilmington Green is a development of real quality with the aim of creating a positive and lasting legacy for the town. The application proposes that each phase of the development will be sustainable in its own right, meaning that the right levels of social and physical infrastructure will be delivered at the right time to serve the residents throughout the development.
The commitment to pursuing quality is at the heart of the council’s policy framework as expressed in the Cabinet’s 2030 Framework and through recent Cabinet’s announcements about pursuing some of the principles of the Garden Suburb movement at Chilmington Green.
+ A petition signed by over 8,000 people was submitted against the Area Action Plan. How can the development go ahead when it does not have the support of the local community?
+ Where will the people who live in the development be employed if only 1,000 new jobs are to be created?
The Core Strategy has already established what the appropriate balance of houses and jobs should be at Chilmington Green, taking into account the location and type of development envisaged. The draft AAP now promotes fewer homes than the Core Strategy (5,750 compared to 7,000), yet still seeks to deliver at least 1,000 jobs.
In fact, the AAP actually envisages that 1,184 jobs will be created at Chilmington Green, in addition to those residents that will work from home, a significant expanding sector of the workforce.
+ What about the impact of the development on the hamlet and the listed buildings within the hamlet?
The principle of the impact of the development on the residential development within the hamlet was taken into account at the time the Core Strategy was adopted in 2008. However, the detailed approach to development within and around the hamlet is dealt with in the AAP. The hamlet is described as one of the “Character Areas” in the AAP, where a bespoke approach to its development within the context of the wider Chilmington Green development is fully justified, due to it being the principal “heritage” part of the AAP area.
The AAP provides specific guidance to ensure that new development is designed in a way that recognises the particular characteristics associated with the “core” area of the hamlet and the remaining character area. If outline planning permission is granted, a detailed design strategy will be needed to inform the preparation of detailed proposals in line with the design principles and parameters outlined in the AAP and this design strategy will have to have been approved by the council in advance of any detailed planning permission or approval of reserved matters is granted.
+ What about the impact of the shops and supermarket on the town centre, which is already struggling?
The amount of retail floorspace put forward in the application is supported by a retail evidence base produced by specialist retail consultants. This will in turn be assessed by an independent retail consultant appointed by the council to ensure that the proposed convenience shopping floorspace will not lead to any adverse impacts in terms of the vitality and viability of Ashford town centre or preclude any planned investment in and around the town centre.
Vacancy rates have increased in the last three years, but this is fundamentally linked to the demise of a number of high street chains and the difficult economic conditions. Indeed, it could be argued that the additional spending potential in the Ashford retail catchment arising from the Chilmington Green development may have a beneficial impact on trading conditions in the town centre in the future.