Formed in November 2017, we are a Community Group run by volunteers that aims to change the way that planning authorities consider the impact of rural development upon ecosystems and communities.
The campaign has originated from the villages of Aldington, Bonnington, Bilsington, Brabourne, Brook, Hastingleigh, Ruckinge and Smeeth (which form Saxon Shore Ward), as well as Shadoxhurst, all of which are part of Ashford Borough in Kent. However, the campaign has grown to embrace any rural area, parish or village within the Borough that shares it’s aim to protect the countryside via the adoption of the Landscape Protection Policy.
Rural communities feel disenfranchised by the current planning process. We want to give residents a collective voice and raise the bar for development in rural areas. We are lobbying local and national government for change.
The campaign was launched to give residents a voice to express their feelings about the pace and scale of continuous development within rural areas, and the intention, through Policy HOU3a in the emerging Ashford Local Plan 2030, to permit potentially uncapped (minor) residential development in even the remotest of Borough villages.
The group is concerned about the cumulative effects of the many small pockets of development in their Ward, and other locations all across the UK, as well as the propensity of building on greenfield sites to meet national housing requirements. The Group supports appropriate development in rural locations but believes that the current scale and pace is eroding rural life – threatening its quality, wildlife and ecological systems, the community and character of the landscape.
We want residents to be able to identify and preserve the special characteristics of where they live so that development, when it comes, meets local needs and supports the environment, biodiversity and community values that drew people to live there.
We are challenging the planning authorities with a new idea and are approaching both local and national government with the aim of inspiring a whole new way of thinking about sustainable development.
What do we want?
- Adoption of our Landscape Protection Policy into the National Planning Policy Framework and the Ashford Local Plan 2030 for the benefit all areas of Britain, rural and urban.
- To encourage communities to define the special characteristics of where they live and work with us to create a Landscape Protection Policy for their area.
- To give a voice to many rural communities across the UK who feel ignored.
- To call a halt to speculative land management companies and their cynical manipulation of landowners and the planning system.
- We are seeking Ministerial intervention for the adoption of our Landscape Protection Policy. The Policy, which is neither pro nor anti-development, seeks to ensure that any development undertaken is appropriate for rural settings – being measured against clearly defined characteristics determined by residents. These will differ from one village to another. The process offers residents the opportunity to preserve the individual character that makes their village special.
- We are asking for respite from planned, allocated development in Aldington, a village which has grown 68% since 2001, so that this area can absorb and integrate recent additions.
- We want to ensure that “green Corridors” are maintained around villages to retain their distinct identities. Such as Shadoxhurst which is in danger of being swallowed up by large developments on its parish borders.
- We seek to have the Landscape Protection Policy included in the Ashford Local Plan to provide a means to adopt an holistic approach to Planning which does not at present exist in the Planning Process.
- We would also like to see The Landscape Protection Policy adapted so that it could be adopted for inclusion in the National Planning Policy Framework ( NPPF) for the benefit all areas of Britain, rural and urban.
Core Volunteer Team
The campaign relies on volunteers and donations to raise awareness and take this issue to national level.
We have volunteers from many villages around Ashford, including Aldington, Bonnington, Ruckinge, Shadoxhurst. Without their help and support none of this would be possible.
- Graham Christmann Brown – Chairman
- Christine Greener – Secretary
- David Montford – Treasurer
- Linda Harman – PR and Marketing
- Glyn Bryant – retired Chartered Town Planner and advisor
- Ann Ross – Newsletter and Petition co-ordinator
- Sally Cunningham – Website Administration
- Terry Ransley – Website Administration
- Nick Hulme – Policy advisor
Saxon Shore Ward Councillor Jane Martin pioneered the development of the Landscape Protection Policy within her ward, succeeding in developing a policy for both Aldington and Bonnington and Brabourne and Smeeth in 2017. She continues to work with the campaign to lobby for the adoption of the Landscape Protection Policy at national level and is a key advisor to the campaign. Click here for more info about Cllr Jane Martin
If you would like to volunteer and get more involved we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please send us an email or click here for more information about how to get involved .