Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence


Memorandum from Scott Brownrigg

  Thank you for the invitation to submit evidence to the Housing: Building a Sustainable Future Inquiry. Scott Brownrigg's interest in this inquiry is that it is instructed by Transcend Property to promote the development of some 200 hectares of undeveloped land to the north of Ashford to accommodate part of the town's growth as part of the Sustainable Communities Plan. I am a chartered town planner and qualified urban designer and I have a professional interest in the implications of the Sustainable Communities Plan.

  The key issue I would like to focus on in this submission is:

    —  "where will the proposed new housing be built and what are the implications for land-use and flood-risk of the large scale proposed building projects?"

  I consider this issue in relation to the Ashford growth area only.

  The adopted Local Plan for Ashford and the Proposed Changes to RPG9 (currently out on public consultation until 17 June 2004) distribute new growth generally to the south of the town; however, much of this area is also within a flood plain.

  Ashford Borough Council has commissioned a study (the Greater Ashford Development Framework) that reviews the spatial distribution of new development, which I believe is a vitally important step to ensure that the environmental implications of all development opportunities are considered afresh.

  For example, there are some 200 hectares of land in a single location to the north-west of the town that remain undeveloped and are not within a flood plain (referred to as the North Ashford Development Corridor). Indeed, this land has no environmental designations (such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Protected Sites, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Landscape Areas) and no specific designations on the Proposals Map of the adopted Local Plan (ie it is "white land").

  In addition, much of this land has been used previously as a construction site for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and consequently it could be a highly suitable area, in environmental terms, for development as part of Ashford's growth.

  The North Ashford Development Corridor is also close to junction 9 of the M20 and whilst the capacity of this junction is currently being tested by consultants on behalf of Ashford Borough Council it is less constrained than junction 10 to which improvements are due to start this year. To accommodate new growth to the south of the town the Government has announced a new junction (10A) on the M20 that is subject to developer contributions. The North Ashford Development Corridor, served by junction 9, offers an excellent opportunity to provide early deliverable growth on a site prior to the construction of the new infrastructure. Indeed, Scott Brownrigg has been asked by the District Council to comment on the Ashford Delivery Board's options for raising private finance for public infrastructure.

  Therefore, I submit that large scale proposed building projects can happen in Ashford in a short time frame and with few environmental costs (in particular flood risk), but to achieve this there must be the political will to consider the benefits of developing outside the favoured "southern arc" at this stage.

  I am happy to follow up this submission if requested.

May 2004

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