Chairman’s Welcome

Trevor-2570006-EditMy name is Alison Breese and I am the current chair of Kingsnorth Parish Council (KPC).

Kingsnorth as a Parish has grown substantially over the last 30 years from a collection of small hamlets to now include a series of large new housing estates like Park Farm , Westhawk and Brisley, giving us a population of over 11, 000 residents.

Assimilating this rapid growth has resulted in changes in the way we use our land whether it be for farming, employment, recreation or access. We have been successful in protecting our environment by creating buffer zones between areas that provide protection for flora and fauna and give residents access to open space but there is more to be done to encourage people to know and use the facilities that they have and for us as a PC to protect and create more.

The call for sites in Ashford Borough Councils (ABC) Local Plan review, places further pressure on our open space as land capable of accommodating 500 homes has been identified in the parish over a number of sites ranging from 200 houses to small infill sites. We know that ABC is duty bound to identify enough sites that can meet future housing need over the next 15 years but we are concerned about scale and the impact it will have on our already expanded community.

Our response to these challenges is as follows:

Local Plan Committee.

This is a joint committee made up of residents and members of the Parish Council. The committee designed and distributed leaflets explaining the local plan proposals and set up an email address to collate and disseminate information regarding the local plan. Residents from the group also set up a Keep Kingsnorth Rural face book page to use social media to get out information in a speedy and inexpensive manner. By working with the wider community we were able to distribute leaflets across the parish and send a response to ABC regarding the local plan proposals that included a resident’s perspective and a summary of resident’s comments in addition to the response from the Parish Council.

Many residents found it difficult to understand what the proposals in the local plan will mean for them so we will be promoting a series of workshops covering the five key proposed development sites where we will invite those residents most affected by the proposals, these are planned for the spring.

Access

The Parish has an important network of footpaths, bridleways and public rights of way, some of which are poorly signposted and in a state of disrepair and therefore unusable. In some cases developers have provided new footpaths or re directed existing ones but these have not been completed creating gaps in the network.

To encourage people to use these routes and get to know and value where they live we have set up a new sub- committee “Access and Open Spaces “ that will oversee the signage and accessibility of these routes and monitor any breaches. It will also be responsible for overseeing our open spaces and community orchard/s and include representatives for key stakeholders, not just Parish Councillors.

Signage

As the Parish has grown residents are not sure of where they live and how it relates to the wider Parish and the facilities available. To celebrate the identity of both old and new communities we will be installing welcome signs at key access points which will state the name of the area and the name of Kingsnorth Parish.

Village Greens

We have the village green at the bottom of Church Hill, the play field behind Kingsnorth School and the Moat in Park Farm as designated public open spaces. Residents in other parts of the Parish wanted to protect their open spaces by registering them for village green status. This has been achieved at Riverside Close and an application is in for Joys Wood. To mark this important event WW1 commemorative benches have been purchased with support for Borough Councillors to be located at Riverside Close, Joys Wood, The Moat and in the Community Orchard.

Facilities

Funding opportunities are linked with new developments and we are working closely with ABC on how best to use these resources to the benefit of all residents in the Parish and with an eye to the ongoing management and maintenance costs which will fall on the Parish precept to fund.

We are currently looking at improved footpaths with all weather surfacing that will link the recreation centre at Park Farm with the Pavilion and Community Orchard which will make the walk to Kingsnorth School more accessible for residents in Park Farm.

Funding for the multi use games area (MUGA) has been identified and the plan is to locate it adjacent to Kingsnorth School so it can be used and managed by the school during school hours and by organised groups out of school hours.

We have plans to expand the pavilion so that it can include secure storage for sport equipment and to hold and be large enough to be used for meetings and private hire, generating an income to help cover running costs.

The open space at Bridgefield needs to be planned which will require the removal of the surplus soil topographical and ecological surveys so we know how to protect what is there and what will successfully grow on the site.

The intention is to provide a range of informal activities on the site, a play area and some managed community uses with the Scouts and Brownies plus a community garden and allotments.

Consultation with residents will start in the spring and this along with the information gained for the surveys will help us plan the site.

Kingsnorth does not exist in isolation so we need to understand how the large scale new developments at Finberry and Cheesemans Green will impact on the Parish and the way communities relate to one another. Our fear is that we don’t want proposed a further expansion to link Finberry, Kingsnorth and Cheesemans Green into a third urban extension of Ashford, we want Kingsnorth to retain its own identity and continue to be a transitional area between the suburbs and the country side.

Alison