As expected, Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee has taken the decision to approve the detailed planning application for TENT 1 (Phase A). This is the area of land between the back of the Leisure Centre and the rear of Tesco’s Car Park. Given the amount of work devoted to this application over the last 2 years by the Steering Group, it is no surprise that this has, subject to some minor alterations, been approved. This will lead to the construction of approximately 250 dwellings (64 of which will be flats) and it is expected that work will start in the spring of 2015.
Although TDRA has been an ever-present member of the Steering Group, there has never been an option to prevent this development, as it has been part of ABC’s core strategy. We have thus sought to ensure that all the desirable aspects of TENT 1 have been enshrined in the planning, such as Useable Public Open Space, high quality design and building materials, sympathetic architecture, appropriate mix of housing and the highest possible proportion of affordable housing. We continue to have concerns over infrastructure provision, especially water supply and health facilities. We are extremely sceptical, to put it mildly, over the effects on traffic in Tenterden High Street (apparently there will be little or none!!).
With regard to the other large-scale proposals which have been put forward (Tilden Gill, Hopes Grove, Westwell, to name but a few), we oppose them all until the whole of TENT 1 has been completed (including Phase B). Our view is that, upon completion of TENT 1, a full review of Tenterden’s housing needs should be undertaken. It is worth pointing out that for the last 15 years an average of 20 dwellings a year have been constructed in infill and windfall sites (eg the old police station in Oaks Road). This level of building is likely to continue, as there is almost nothing that can be done to stop it. We have repeatedly said that significant housing developments should be considered in a Borough-wide context due to the effects on infrastructure. We should bear in mind that 9 miles away in Chilmington Green, plans for a new TOWN the size of Paddock Wood are well advanced.