I wanted to clarify the difference with regard to Planning applications that come forward as part of the Ashford Core Plan, and planning applications that are placed independently and are not in the core plan- these are known as “windfall” applications.
Windfall applications are assessed differently than core plan sites as they can only be assessed for suitability when submitted, and so the ability to fight for or against them is part of the application.
Core/local plan sites can only be contested as to suitability, at the time the plan is being prepared and consulted upon. Once adopted as policy by the Government inspectorate, it is the fixed plan and the opportunity to argue against the principle of development is not impossible, but any arguments would occupy very little weighting. This is why it is vital that your Ward Members and Parish Councils are proactive in keeping you informed and why it is important that you as residents also take every opportunity to understand how your area is changing and what part you can play in supporting or opposing that.
The Plan is the blueprint for Ashford of what is considered large development – planned developments from 10 homes upwards. The last plan was created in 208/9 and adopted into policy in 2010. The process is the same always – the Council put out a call for sites to local landowners, assess the suitability of these sites using a very rigorous test, then consult with Ward Members and Parish Councils and encourage these members to consult openly with the public to get their views. Parish Councils have an important role to play as they are the first tier of local government and are not a talking shop as some may believe, but an important part of getting things done in a community and the Borough Council always consults with them and encourages and recommends they in turn fully consult with the wider public in their Parish.
In 2008/9 all Parish Councils with sites listed in the plan were consulted accordingly, and workshops did take place according to the records to gauge the view of residents. At the time of the current plan update, only Aldington area was included for development- this site can be seen in the core strategy and Tenterden DPD- links which appear at the end of this post.
Currently, the now newly named “local plan” is being updated to 2030. Since becoming the Ward Member in May 2013, I have made it my commitment to ensure you are aware of the planned developments and have adequate opportunity to have your say on the issue. This has meant that I have sent out in excess of 5 newsletters and leaflets, and more than 6 public meetings on varying aspects of the update, including a workshop on development and development that affects the area from outside the Borough such as Otterpool in Hythe, Junction 10 A and developments in Sellinge. I have also held a number of surgeries and have formed the Saxon Shore DIG- a group of residents who are looking at the impacts of development on our area- the findings of this group will be presented to you all in a number of public meetings in June- ahead of the consultation for the current plan being prepared, and will give you an opportunity to have your say and prepare your comments for the consultation. In 2015, I realized that we needed to call into question the very core of the planning process, that does not take into account the effects of cumulative development or the effects constant building has on an area, and so I have worked hard to ensure the Landscape Protection Policy comes into being and has now been agreed at Council as part of the plan we will consult you on. details can be seen by clicking this link:
What is key to state at this stage is that planned development is decided in advance and can be influenced by residents and Parish Councils and Ward Members, if they take the right approach at the right time. I understand, if not always agree with planning policy, and so I am working hard to deliver the best results for our area with the help of many residents, for which I am very grateful. It should not however be underestimated, how important it is that you have an engaged, open and proactive Parish Council,which can enable lots of engagement from residents in order to deliver for your area.
The consultation for the new local plan will be in July, and I look forward to welcoming you all to the meetings that we will have.