Go-ahead for 550-home Kent scheme on unallocated greenfield site

A Kent council has approved plans for 550 homes, despite a recognition from officers that the site is currently not allocated for residential development.

Kingsnorth, Kent: 550-home scheme approved. Image by David Anstiss, Geograph
Kingsnorth, Kent: 550-home scheme approved. Image by David Anstiss, Geograph

Developers Pentland Homes and Jarvis Homes Ltd, revised an application for a larger scheme of 750 homes following the submission of Ashford Borough Council’s local plan in December last year.

The applicants agreed to pause their original proposal - which also included a primary school - until the emerging local plan was further progressed, to take into account the proposed allocation of the site for homes.

The development would provide 30 per cent affordable housing within a scheme covering 51 hectares of greenfield land at Ashford Road near the village of Kingsnorth, south of Ashford.

An Ashford Council planning report, which was considered by the council’s planning committee last week, said: "Whilst the proposal fails to accord with the adopted development plan in terms of the location of new housing, the proposed development complies with the relevant criteria contained in emerging site specific policies…which seek to allocate it in the Local Plan 2030 as a site for residential development as well as other relevant policies in the adopted plan.

"This is, in my opinion, a significant material consideration."

An appeal decision on a different site in July concluded that the council is able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing.

This, the report said, meant that the National Planning Policy Framework's tilted balance should not apply.

But the emerging local plan policy to allocate the site for housing should be given "significant weight", the report said.

In its comments on the application, the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: "Development on this large scale in the open countryside would put the character and permanence of the rural setting to Ashford at risk, and proper planning would be undermined and fail to take account of cumulative impacts.

"Adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly outweigh the benefits."

However, the officer’s report said that screening around the edge of the boundary of the site would mitigate the visual impact on the development.

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