Site description

The site (shown on the map as BAE1) is located along the northern edge of Sandyhurst Lane as it climbs to join the A251. Currently a working farm, the site is mainly grassed agricultural land used for grazing with an area of ancient woodland. There are mature hedgerows and tree boundaries within the site and along the roadside. A spring, 3 ponds and associated drains can be found within the site. On its eastern edge the site abuts the rear gardens of houses in Lenacre Street. To the west the site borders the playing fields of Sandyhurst Lane Sports Club, and to the north, open countryside.

The landowners have selected a developer who has won awards for edge of village and town developments. Plans are still fluid but will likely comprise c.100 new homes of varying size covering c.70% of the site. These will be positioned round a central green space/wildlife corridor. The initial plans propose two points of entry to the site, one close to Lenacre Street and a second close to the entrance to Sandyacres.

The site is c. 10.8 ha.

Site map
Site assessment & decision

The Parish Council was not minded to consider this site for land allocation in the Boughton Aluph and Eastwell Neighbourhood Plan. The landowner was informed of the Parish Council’s decision.

The Parish Council is not a planning authority. Our decision does preclude a planning application being made to Ashford Borough Council.

Read our site assessment report.

Read our decision letter.

Recent developments

An application was made to Ashford Borough Council for an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion (ref. 17/00005/EIA/AS) on 6 July 2017.

Ashford Borough Council’s decision on 27 July 2017 was that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required.

Planning application 17/01613/AS for this site was submitted to Ashford Borough Council by Millwood Designer Homes Ltd on 23 October 2017. This is a hybrid application for 89 new residential dwellings comprising:

  • a full planning application for 21 new dwellings, access, drainage and landscaping to the south of the site with new road access next to the entrance to Sandyacres; and
  • an outline planning application with all matters reserved except for access for the development of up to 68 new dwellings with associated access, landscaping, open space and community orchard on land to the north and west of the site (behind Sandyhurst Lane and Lenacre Street) with new road access to the rear of gardens on Lenacre Street.

In March 2018, Millwood Designer Homes Ltd submitted a second planning application (18/00413/AS) to build 21 new homes on part of the Lenacre Hall Farm site.

The second planning application was considered by Ashford Borough Council’s Planning Committee at their meeting on 18 July 2018. The application was REFUSED. The developer has submitted an appeal against this decision.

A decision has not yet been taken on the original larger hybrid application 17/01613/AS.

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4 thoughts on “Lenacre Hall Farm, Sandyhurst Lane

  • October 17, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    This issue just never seems to go away. Once again the residents of Sandyhurst Lane and Lenacre Strret are to be subjected to the threat of possible housing development on ground belonging to Lenacre Hall Farm. My wife and I, both retired people, moved here several years ago to escape the encroachment of development elsewhere in Ashford, and now we seem to be threatened by it again. The proposed site is a beautiful pasture, currently being grazed by a flock of sheep, and provides uninterrupted views across to Sandy Acres, providing a haven of peace and tranquillity from all the hustle and bustle of Ashford town. How many cars will 100+ ( …how many is 100+, anyway ? ) bring with them? Sandyhurst Lane is still used as a ‘rat run ‘ for people to get from the A20 to the A251, without having to negotiate the roundabouts and traffic lights in Trinity road, and, at times, is quite busy. Turning right into Lenacre Street from the Faversham road is already sometimes a daunting prospect, because of the speed of motorists coming up Sandyhurst Lane, quite often at slightly more than the 40m.p.h. limit, who are quite often upon you before they even realise there is a turning there.
    How is it that the developers claim ample local facilities for 100 new families? The waiting times at both Lower Hayesbank dental surgery and New Hayesbank doctor’s surgery have already doubled in the last 4 years ( I now have to wait a fortnight before I can even be considered for an appointment with my own doctor! ). With an influx of another 100 or so families, the situation is only going to get worse. Why does building work have to go ahead in this particular location, when there are other brownfill sites at other locations around Ashford, at Chilmington and the Great Chart/Kingsnorth areas ? Surely this piece of land should be protected as a buffer between the outskirts of Ashford Town at Sandyhurst Lane and the unspoiled countryside, including natural habitat for wildlife by way of woodland, out to Boughton Aluph and Chilham ?
    I have heard all the arguments for and against the requirement for houses, but if this development is allowed to go ahead, and subsequently pushes the boundaries of Ashford just a bit further, where will the next one be ? We have already seen Kingsnorth virtually swallowed up, similarly with Great Chart…just ‘ one little bit here’ and ‘one little bit there’ . How long before the west of Ashford reaches to Charing ? Please do not let this appeal go ahead, and leave the natural boundary of Sandyhurst Lane act as just that – a boundary to the north-western edge of the vast built-up area that Ashford has become.
    Norman Thompson
    Lenacre Street

  • July 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I have lived on Lenacre Street all my life, and I am also the fifth generation of my family to live in this house. The decades of our family history would not be so positive and fulfilling if the beautiful countryside and views were not there. Lenacre Street, Sandyhurst Lane, and all the residents that live in this area know how important keeping the border of urban and countryside is, there is never a time when there aren’t people enjoying the tranquil scenery of the area and views. All of this would be destroyed by the senseless building of properties, which is obviously going to increase the dangerous amount of cars on the road, the piece and quiet that we experience here will forever be gone, and light pollution in an area will just contribute to an already massive problem for Ashford. Moreover, I can’t stress enough the wonderful range of wildlife we experience here: foxes, owls, hedgehogs, lizards, snakes, newts, frogs and toads. Everyone knows the importance of the hedgehog population, and by building on this land will just further decrease their numbers, as well as the other wildlife that use this area to escape the dangers of urbanisation. The description of this area above already quotes there is ancient woodland here, so why take the option to build here and destroy a thriving habitat for animals and people. By now there should already be enough houses built in other areas of Ashford, let’s not make Eastwell another victim of this destruction that’s wiping out our countryside.

    • July 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you John for taking the time to post your views about the proposed development of 99 new homes on the Lenacre Hall Farm site. The site has not been included in Ashford Borough Council’s draft Local Plan 2030. The site has been rejected by Boughton Aluph and Eastwell Parish Council for land allocation in our emerging Neighbourhood Plan. However, this does not preclude a planning application coming forward. The developers are holding a public meeting about their plans on 9 August so we can expect a planning application to follow soon afterwards. You may be interested to read the Parish Council’s submission to Ashford Borough Council in response to their consultation on an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion application for this site (17/00005/EIA/AS). While the Parish Council is not a formal consultee on this application, Councillors thought it important to put forward the case that the Lenacre Hall Farm site is a valued local landscape and environmentally sensitive. The link above will take you to a copy of our submission.

  • August 1, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Submission to Ashford Borough Council from Jane Hall, Lenacre street, Ashford, Kent.

    I was dismayed and alarmed to learn that a planning application for a substantial development on Lenacre hall farm was being prepared, this despite the land being rejected by the draft Parish Neighbourhood plan and in the revised draft of Ashford Borough Council development plan 2031. The local parish survey undertaken by the parish council revealed a high level of opposition to this as development site, with an overwhelming 92% of respondents stating that the urban/rural boundary should be maintained at Sandyhurst lane. http://www.parishplan.uk/analysis. This development breaches this boundary and opens the door for further development of Greenfield sites.

    On reviewing the recent letter sent to the Council from the developers ECE planning, rejecting the need for an EIA or LVIA, I feel that a local view is required to bring some of the issues into perspective. The developers base their view on the fact that the site is not a “sensitive area” and therefore does not require an EIA nor a full LVIA since the developmental impact is “not considered significant”. I would take issue with both aspects. Indeed Ashford Borough Council’s adopted policy for landscape assessment (Studio Engleback 2005) classifies the Lenacre Hall Farm site as “Conserve and Create”, specifically to plant more woodland and re-instate hedges. Studio Engleback described the site as having a “unique and separate character”. Given its proximity to AONB and the importance of the woodlands and the hedge rows providing linking corridors on this site and that Tower wood has been classified as a BAP site, Lenacre hall farm should be considered as sensitive and require a full and detailed environmental assessment.

    As a long term resident of Lenacre street for over 30 years and keen wildlife observer, I find it incredible that the environmental surveys do not take into account the effects of the mature gardens that back onto the farmland and the link role they play between Tower wood (the boundary of the AONB), and the hedgerows, mature trees and ancient woodland that are found on the site. The hedgerows themselves are mature, over 30 years old and 20 m or longer with 5 or more plant species and therefore of high Ecological value, – fragmentation will occur should this development proceed without a full assessment. ABC state in their Blue and Green grid strategy policy they want to enhance biodiversity by linking, extending and creating BAP habitats.

    Environmental observations that require consideration include:
    1. The Tower woodland has a many grade 1 birds that continually fly between the woodlands and hedgerows on the site, passing through the gardens en route for both nesting and feeding activities e.g. Buzzards, Falcons and Tree Creepers. The barn owl population is clearly heard every night. There should be a survey of Schedule 1 nesting sites in hedgerow and on the mature trees, not just ground nesting birds . Foraging and nesting would be severely affected if building goes ahead.
    2. A number of garden ponds have reported newts breeding in their ponds. A survey needs to be undertaken for Great crested newts (GCN) as these have the highest level of protection. If removing over 3ha of suitable terrestrial habitat for GCN, the natural England risk assessment guidelines state that a survey of all water bodies within 250m of the development site – e.g garden ponds should be undertaken. To note – GCN have also been reported in gardens on the Goats Lees development within this 250m assessment zone.
    3. eDNA used to sample for GCN activity is insufficient given that at least one of the ponds they have carried out eDNA is linked with a running stream – inaccurate survey method as running water produces false negatives/positives for GCN DNA. The DNA could be washed out of the pond.
    4. There is no mention of other species such as protected invertebrates or key BAP species like hedgehogs, frogs and toads (all reported in garden abutting Lenacre farm). These need to be considered as a whole and increase the sensitivity of the site.
    5. The survey methods used for reptiles was greatly impaired by the sheep grazing in the field who knocked, moved and sat on the refugia, calling into question the validity of results.
    6. Badger sets are present in Tile wood and an analysis of their foraging habits needs to be undertaken. – Badgers usually have other sets within 500m of each other – each set would require a 30m buffer zone. 
    7. Although no bats nesting sites have been found on site, bats have been widely reported in the gardens surrounding the site. Bats forage and commute on the site. A detailed survey needs to be undertake to ensure bats are protected..
    8. This would be a light sensitive site affecting the diurnal rhythms of a wide range of plants and animals, including bats foraging and commuting routes. The number of residences at 99+ is highly likely to increase light emissions. It is difficult to see how houses, especially 3 storey houses would not impact on this by affecting hedge row navigation for example. 
    9. Creating a thorny buffer for dormice will only encourage dormice to use the thorny buffer – their ideal habitat is within brambles, already present along the ditches and hedgerows.

    Govt. Guidelines state Local planning authorities are advised to consult the consultation in cases where there is a doubt about the significance of a development’s likely effects on a sensitive area. I hope the above observation will be taken into consideration and convince the Council that overall this site is a sensitive site that requires full environmental considerations

    Landscape considerations:
    In terms of a landscape and visual appraisal, this development is highly significant. Not only does it affect the very nature of the rural/urban environment but will have a significant impact on residents living environment. The guidelines from  ‘Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment’, 3rd (Landscape Institute and Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment) state consideration should be given to. “How surroundings of individuals / groups people may be affected by change in landscape”

    This is an area that rises to the ridge at Lenacre street and is likely to be highly visible from both the low lying Sandyhurst lane, Sandyacres sports ammeniety and be visible from and other parts of Ashford looking north. It will also have a major effect on the residents of Lenacre street itself which will look down on the site, essentially turning the site into an urban rather than a rural environment and completely change the living environs. The community of Lenacre street has many residents who have lived there for well over 25 years, the oldest resident being 98 years old and one family having lived there for at least 3 generations. This development would have a significant effect on their lives.
     The development will completely destroy the footpath views towards Ashford and views to and from Sandyacres sports amenity. This is a widely used path and will have an effect on the well being of persons who use this path. Sandyacres will lose its rural feel, instead abutting a housing estate, the many sports activities that utilise the rural lanes will be affected.
    It is a greenfield site, although predominantly used for grazing of sheep, it is non-the-less high value soil, roughly 50% grade 2 and 50% grade 3 soils and is suitable for other types of farming as has been done in the past.

    The impact of extra traffic on our rural lanes and the footfall on AONB also requires a full assessment – not a traffic survey done during the summer when people are on holiday and the schools are on exam leave or away on half term

    The fact that the site abuts AONB and an historic park should ensure it goes through the highest level of impact assessments before a development of this size is considered.

    This is a large development and developers should not be allowed to get away with bending the rules to their advantage. The developers are trying to manipulate the situation, the site has been excluded from the ABC 2031 plan and the emerging neighbourhood plan. The developers are fully aware of this and are preparing a case which does not fully take into account the environmental impact or the impact on the local community.

    Thank you for your consideration

    Yours sincerely

    Jane Hall


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