Local Plan to 2030 - Main Modifications September 2018

Main Modifications to Ashford Local Plan

Policy SP5 - Ashford Town Centre (MM6)

Amendments to paragraph 3.157 and insert additional paragraph following it:

3.157 The town centre policy below picks up these themes, setting out the principles and criteria for development proposals within the Ashford Town Centre Boundary, as identified on the policies map.– it is supported by a specific site policy for the Commercial Quarter (see site Policy S1). The general policy approach is deliberately flexible to accommodate a range of potential uses in the town centre that help to meet the vision and approach set out above.  In an emerging market a degree of pragmatism is essential to be able to respond to changing market demands.  National planning policy supports a market-aware approach of this sort. 

This policy is supported by other policies in this Plan relating to town centre development. Policy S1 is a site specific policy for the Commercial Quarter within Ashford Town Centre. Policy EMP7 identifies the Primary Shopping Area, including the primary and secondary frontages for Ashford Town Centre and which uses will be considered acceptable within them. Policy EMP9 sets out the requirements for the sequential and impact test for retail development and other main town centre uses. These policies will apply to certain development proposed within Ashford Town Centre, and will be considered alongside Policy SP5 where relevant to the specific proposal.

Amendments to Policy SP5 -  Ashford Town Centre as follows:

Proposals coming forward in Ashford Town Centre (as shown on the policies map), will be supported in principle where they help to deliver the vision set out above and where they promote high quality design that is appropriate to their location. A range of principal uses may be acceptable including retail, offices, leisure, residential and hotel. Other complementary uses may include voluntary and community uses and health facilities. Proposals in the town centre will need to comply with sequential test requirements set out in Policy EMP9. 

Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

a) All schemes will need to demonstrate a quality of design that makes a significant contribution to improving the character of the town centre, including any proposed buildings and public realm. This includes not just the buildings proposed but the spaces around them and links to the wider public realm. Mixed use developments are encouraged and street frontages of buildings should include active uses that help bring a sense of vitality to the street scene. New development proposals on major and/or prominent sites will be expected to have been subject to public exhibition/ consultation and be subject to review by the independent Ashford Design Panel;

b)Residential development in the town centre is supported encouraged, for example, making use of space above shops but the opportunity also exists to provide a range of types of home, including the potential for serviced private rented apartment schemes;

c) Further expansion of further and higher education facilities at the Ashford College complex will be supported subject to design and other site-specific considerations;  

d) As set out in Policy TRA3, Aa balanced approach to office parking needs will be taken in order to help stimulate early investment in the town centre, whilst considering long term impacts on road capacity and the needs of shoppers, residents and other users. As the market strengthens and further developments come forward this approach is likely to be subject to formal review.

Where a development proposal comes forward that clearly demonstrates it would meet the vision and design quality set for the town centre but is of marginal viability, the Council (taking specialist advice) will explore a flexible approach to seek to reduce the costs of contributions to infrastructure and affordable housing, provided the resulting proposal does not create a serious and unacceptable level of impact, as set out in Policy IMP2.