It has been a great concern to me, that almost before the ink was dry on the so called “village confines exercise”, that Ashford Borough Council began disregarding the outcomes and defined areas agreed by residents and the Council.
The exercise, encouraged Parish Councils and Residents to define the red line which would represent the natural boundary of their village, and which would define where development was appropriate and permitted.
Whilst a boundary is subject to change and is continually being revised, by nature of what it is, it is disappointing and concerning that ABC planning department have already approved a number of applications in a number of villages, outside these drawn boundaries.
What is the point of asking Resident and Parish Council viewpoint, only to disregard it?
What is the point of creating a village boundary only to ignore it?
What is the point of providing Policy and having rules if the very Council who create them, breach them?
The Parish of Chilham has already had a number of applications clearly outside the defined confines and which do not conform to the Council’s own Policies HOU3a and 5, approved, and this raises the question- that I am sure many wish to ask,- why waste time with any of this at all if the Council openly disregard the boundaries themselves?
Planning is a sensitive subject- despite the policies and plans that seek to deliver clarity, it has to be accepted, that much of planning is subjective- and decided on a planning officer or committee viewpoint. Planning authorities, and in particular, the one mentioned here, run the risk of losing all credibility and respect, with such consistent disregard for agreed and properly consulted decisions- that have been made by local people and in the interests of those and the area they live in.
Much as been argued and written about the need for the 16000 or so planned sites in the new Local Plan for Ashford. Almost half of that number is not needed to deliver on local need, rather to provide for London over spill. This is concerning enough, but then to further disenfranchise rural areas, where the Countryside is precious and in many cases, high grade agricultural and ecological land,by building outside agreed boundaries, is a blatant and disgraceful slap in the face to those who respect the word of the law, and seriously dents the trust placed in our local council.