We are a Community Group, formed in November 2017 and run by volunteers, that aims to make planning authorities consider the multiple impacts of rural development upon ecosystems and communities.
The campaign originated in 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. It has grown to embrace any rural area, parish or village within the Borough that shares our aims:
Give residents a collective voice and raise the bar for development in rural areas.
- Help protect our landscapes and communities from the cumulative effects of development.
Raise awareness in villages of how to engage effectively in the planning system.
The campaign was launched to give residents a voice to express feelings about the pace and scale of continuous development within rural areas. This has accelerated in the South East following recent changes to National Planning Policy and increased government housing targets.
We are concerned about the cumulative effects of the development in our Borough, the propensity of building on greenfield sites to meet national housing requirements and the lack of joined up thinking between adjacent Boroughs.
We believe that villages that are allowed to evolve are the best places to live and that the current scale and pace is eroding rural life – threatening its quality, wildlife and ecological systems, community spirit and landscape character.
We want residents to be able to identify and preserve the special characteristics of their areas 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 Ashford Borough Council with the aim of inspiring a whole new way of thinking about sustainable development.
What do we want?
- To encourage communities to define the special characteristics of where they live to validate the cumulative effects of continuous inappropriate development in the countryside.
- To give a voice to many rural communities who feel ignored.
- To call a halt to speculative land management companies and their cynical manipulation of landowners and the planning system.
- We want to ensure that “green Corridors” are maintained around villages to retain the distinct identities of villages such as Shadoxhurst, which is in danger of being swallowed up by large developments on its parish borders.
- We want a cap to be placed on the rate of growth of villages to allow communities to absorb change.
The campaign relies on volunteers and donations.
We have volunteers from villages around Ashford, including Aldington, 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 – Communication
- Glyn Bryant – retired Chartered Town Planner and advisor
- Sally Cunningham – Website Advisor
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 .