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South Ashford Garden Communities - creating healthy living

Above: Chilmington Green, Ashford, Kent (courtesy Ashford Council)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Mark Chaplin, Head of Place-making at Ashford Borough Council, will be speaking at our 'Healthy Cities' discussion next week on developing the South of Ashford Garden Community.

The discussion will centre on best practice for the design of healthy cities, towns and villages for the UK, in which residents can improve their physical health and mental wellbeing through active lifestyles and being surrounded by nature. Sports arena-led regeneration that develops positive community engagement will also be discussed.

The South of Ashford Garden Community (SAGC) includes Chilmington Green, Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green developments, and was named as one of 19 Garden Communities by the Government in 2019.

Both Court Lodge and Kingsnorth Green are allocated in the adopted Ashford Local Plan 2030, and are now joined with Chilmington Green to become designated as a Garden Community.

Garden Communities must have local leadership, accessible transport links, climate resilient designs, community owned assets and long-term stewardship. By joining-up of these developments to ensure they work together – the Council says it can ensure they offer the right mix of services and amenities for existing and new residents.

The designation comes with the financial and professional support of Homes England to ensure key infrastructures are delivered at pace with development, and it comes with a commitment to achieving a sustainable, green conscious future for the wider area. Together the communities represent 7,250 homes (2,175 affordable), a 142 hectare public park along with new schools, a primary healthcare space, play spaces and ecological areas to be protected.

Homes England defines a Garden Community as:

  • a purpose built new settlement, or large extension to an existing town

  • a community with a clear identity and attractive environment

  • it provides a mix of homes, including affordable and self-build

  • planned by local authorities or private sector in consultation with the local community

As well as building new homes, the communities develop:

  • job opportunities

  • attractive green space and public realm areas

  • transport infrastructure, including roads, buses and cycle routes

  • community infrastructure, schools, community and health centres

  • a plan for long-term stewardship of community assets

In addition to Ashford Council, Mark has worked for Swale District Council, Tonbridge & Malling DC, Coventry City Council and Solihull MBC. He has a BA in Town Planning from Sheffield Hallam University and and an MA in Urban Design from the University of Westminster.


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