Hothfield Parish Council

...in the rustic heart of Kent


CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR MAY 2016 – APRIL 2017

  

In May 2016, we had new appointments to the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman, with Larry Krause and Peter Howard being replaced by Richard Libbeter as VC and me as Chairman.

Twelve months on, I have been looking at the minutes from the monthly meetings that have taken place since then, which reinforces that much of what a parish council does might be considered as being mundane and routine stuff….but these routine items still need to be addressed, such as paying bills, dealing with run of the mill housing applications, ensuring the parish assets are maintained, organising the village fete or gardening competition and trying to assist with specific issues raised by residents, where if we are unable to address them ourselves, we try to find the right people within ABC and KCC who can.


I guess by far the most important issue that has been on our radar these past 12 months, is the final emergence of ABC’s Local Plan draft, which has been long in the making and as I speak, still not finalised and also a related issue regarding a potential Neighbourhood Plan for Hothfield.

In terms of the Local Plan, Hothfield’s initial involvement started in October 2013, where Ashford Borough Council held a public meeting in the village hall to gauge the opinions of residents as to how they saw the future development of Hothfield, under what was then known as the Plan-It Ashford 2030 initiative.

Some two years later, we eventually got ABC’s proposals for Hothfield, which didn’t align with what parishioners had previously suggested and where it seemed very likely the village would potentially be getting a new housing development of some 40 houses down the line. This was confirmed in June 2016, with the publication of the Local Plan draft, which identified a site off the top of Coach Drive as a potential location, although ABC was also open to considering alternative sites, should other landowners come forward.

In common with most other Ashford borough parishes, during the six-week consultation period, additional landowners did make approaches to ABC and a considerable number of what are known as “Omission Sites” emerged across Ashford (I believe perhaps in excess of 100 have been established), where ABC is obliged to evaluate every single one of them against its housing development suitability criteria, which has caused a considerable delay in them being able to firm up on the Local Plan proposals.

In terms of Hothfield, the Coach Drive site has been joined for evaluation purposes by two sites off West Street and a small one at Kempton Manor Farm near the A20.

In the meantime, it appears as if ABC has been told to add a further 1,000 housing units to the numbers already being proposed in the Local Plan draft. Inevitably, this is going to place all of the rural parishes under further scrutiny, in terms of being allocated more housing development by ABC. Logic dictates this could mean instead of getting 40 houses allocated to a single site, Hothfield may well be allocated more this number and possibly with more than one site being suggested by ABC.

Hopefully, residents should not have to wait much longer to find out what ABC has in mind for Hothfield, as currently, it seems likely this information will be placed in the public domain towards the end of June or early in July.

Once ABC puts its proposals in the public domain, a six-week consultation period will immediately follow, during which we plan on arranging for ABC to do a drop-in session for Hothfield residents at the village hall, where people will be able to informally discuss the proposals with Simon Cole and his team and give their feedback and where prior to this, the parish council will ensure full details of the proposals for Hothfield are published in Hothfield News and on the village website.

In terms of the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for Hothfield, because this is a very complex, time-consuming and expensive exercise and where any Neighbourhood Plan has to be completely aligned to the Ashford Borough Local Plan, we have put this project on hold, pending the finalisation of the current Local Plan draft. We are hoping to have a degree of input into what happens in Hothfield once ABC has finalised its Housing proposals for the village, in terms of ownership and styles and with a view to creating some benefit for local people.

In concluding my report, I would summarise that the next few months and years are going to irrevocably change the parish of Hothfield, in much the same way as the 1950’s development of the Triangle did.

Hothfield Parish Council will be doing its best to protect and enhance what is good about our village, whilst embracing the change which is undoubtedly coming our way, along with many other parishes within Ashford borough.

Finally, I would like to record my thanks to my fellow parish councillors for their commitment and support across the past 12 months. We are all volunteers, who give up varying degrees of our personal time to help the village. Being a parish councillor can often be a thankless task, but Hothfield’s community would be the poorer without the commitment given by a small number of people.

 

David Parker
Chairman, Hothfield Parish Council
 

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Last Update  01.06.2017
2017 Hothfield Parish Council