Local Plan to 2030 - Publication Draft

3 STRATEGIC POLICIES

Vision and Strategic Objectives

3.1 National planning policy is very clear that there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development.  Finding what is sustainable development relies on a careful balance between economic, social and environmental factors and the National Planning Policy Framework gives guidance how to achieve this.  It also makes it clear that Local Plans are the key to delivering sustainable development in a way that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities.

3.2 This approach lies at the heart of this local plan.  The Plan seeks to achieve each of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a way which avoids significant adverse impacts by reduce impacts by mitigation or compensatory measures.

3.3 The plan sets out the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change and identifies opportunities for development.  It has been based on early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with local communities and a range of other stakeholders.  The plan aims to reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the Borough, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans.

3.4 The plan is positive, realistic and is focused on delivery.

The Vision

3.5 The following sets out the vision for Ashford Borough in 2030.

3.6 Ashford Borough will meet its housing and employment needs, and take account of the needs of investors, through the provision of new high quality development forming attractive places, with the necessary supporting infrastructure and services, and in sustainable and accessible locations that take account of the Borough’s environmental constraints.

3.7 The town of Ashford will continue to be the main focus for development with the regeneration of the town centre and areas where there are existing environmental and social issues and the creation of attractive and vibrant new communities on the periphery of the town.

3.8 A regenerated Ashford Town Centre will expand significantly its leisure, cultural, educational and residential offer.  A new Commercial office Quarter next to the railway station will be a major economic impetus for the area, helping to substantially increase employment, trigger more spending in the town centre economy, and improve wage rates and skills levels.  The town centre’s heritage will be conserved and enhanced alongside quality new public realm reflecting the various different character areas.

3.9 Tenterden will continue to serve the south western part of the Borough as a principal rural service centre with a strong offer of shops and services, conserving and enhancing its historic centre and accommodating development of a suitable scale, design and character.

3.10 The other rural service centres of Charing, Hamstreet and Wye will remain important providers of local shops and services, with care taken to conserve and enhance their historic centres and the delivery of limited development. 

3.11 The identity and attractive character of the Borough’s rural area, with its range of attractive settlements, wealth of heritage assets and its expansive countryside, including the Kent Downs AONB to the north and the High Weald AONB to the south, will be protected and enhanced.

3.12 The Boroughs green spaces will be protected and enhanced to serve expanding populations including two new strategic parks at Ashford and the promotion of sporting and recreational hubs in accessible locations; the retention of flood storage areas; reinforcement of wildlife corridors and an improved cycle network to foster healthier lifestyles for residents and workers. 

3.13 A positive approach to the adaptation of climate change will be secured by avoiding development in areas at greatest risk of flooding; protecting and enhancing green networks; carefully considered new layouts and designs of housing areas; and promoting sustainable drainage and challenging water efficiency standards.

 

3.14 In order to deliver the vision, a number of strategic objectives have been developed, as set out in Policy SP1 below.

 

Policy SP1 - Strategic Objectives

 

To deliver the Vision, a number of strategic objectives have been identified. They form the basis of this Local Plan’s policy framework, as well as providing the core principles that planning applications are expected to adhere to.

  1. To focus development at accessible and sustainable locations which utilise existing infrastructure, facilities and services wherever possible and makes best use of suitable brownfield opportunities
  2. To protect and enhance the Borough’s historic and natural environment including its built heritage and biodiversity;
  3. To create the highest quality design which is sustainable, accessible, safe and promotes a positive sense of place through the design of the built form, the relationship of buildings with each other and the spaces around them, and which responds to the prevailing character of the area;
  4. To ensure development is supported by the necessary social, community, physical and e-technology infrastructure, facilities and services with any necessary improvements brought forward in a co-ordinated and timely manner;
  5. To promote access to a wide choice of easy to use forms of sustainable transport modes, including bus, train, cycling and walking to encourage as much non-car based travel as possible and to promote healthier lifestyles;
  6. To meet the changing housing needs of the Borough’s population, including affordable and starter homes, self build and custom build properties, specialist housing for older residents, accommodation to meet the needs of the Traveller community and spacious, quality family housing
  7. To provide a range of employment opportunities to respond to the needs of business, support the growing population and attract inward investment