A garden town is a new settlement that offers high-quality homes, jobs and community facilities and services in an attractive, landscape-led setting. It provides everything people need for a new community to thrive – including schools, medical centres, green space, public transport, new roads, community centres and shops – to create a well-connected community with the health and happiness of its residents at its core.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council, as a local planning authority, is responsible for making sure that enough homes are provided for all its residents. To address the future housing needs in the district, 14,600 new homes will need to be built between 2014 and 2037. At the moment, the area has completed or has plans for, some 8,000 homes – leaving a deficit of 6,600 up to 2037. Homes will be needed beyond this date too. As landowner at the proposed site, the council can help to provide a solution to the housing crisis locally.
The proposed site sits to the south of the M20 and west of junction 11 and stretches from the village of Lympne to the south to Barrow Hill in the west. It covers around 765 hectares and includes the former Folkestone Racecourse, Newingreen and Westenhanger village and station. Existing communities nearby include Stanford and Sellindge. Larger towns in this area of the county include Ashford, Hythe and Folkestone.
There are a number of restrictions on where development can take place in the area – much of the district sits in the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and large areas are at risk of flooding. A report by AECOM also found that other areas of the district don’t have the capacity to make a significant contribution to growth, based on reasons including environment, lack of infrastructure and flood concerns. Otterpool Park is a great rural location that is ideal for a garden town.
The area is close to the motorway, has an existing railway station and is large enough to be able to create a settlement that has plenty of space for residents to live, work and enjoy a range of leisure facilities. It is close to the Channel Tunnel and the Kent coast is minutes away.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council has found that there simply are not enough brownfield sites in the area to provide all the extra homes that are needed, although as much as possible is being used. On the basis of the current rates of these sites, they can only provide for 1,000 homes between 2014 and 2037.
Also, brownfield sites can be so scattered that it is hard for the council to provide infrastructure to support them. Many of the existing brownfield sites in the area are already being developed.
This is an option that Folkestone & Hythe District Council as a planning authority considers when planning new homes. The landowners who have put forward proposals for Otterpool Park believe that by building all the homes the area needs in one place, the development can also include all the roads, schools, utilities and health services that are needed by the residents.
This means much less pressure on existing services in villages and towns which are in themselves becoming increasingly crowded.
The planning application is for 8,500 homes, but the master plan takes up to 10,000 homes into account, setting the framework for longer-term growth and designing the community as a whole. The planning application sets out plans for how these 8,500 homes – and supporting facilities and services – will be built out in phases. Much of the detail will therefore come forward in subsequent phases, with each phase requiring permission for the detail to be approved by the Council, in consultation with stakeholders and the local community.
If the local planning authority planning committee decides to approve the planning application then the Secretary of State at the government level might decide to ‘call in’ the application to make a final decision.
The project is awaiting planning approval and, if granted, will begin in a phased way over a period of around 30 years.
Our master plan is for 10,000 homes, which sets the framework for longer-term growth and the broad layout and facilities for the community as a whole. The initial planning application submitted is for 8,500 homes, plus supporting facilities and services, and will be built out in phases.
Further detail on each phase will come forward in subsequent applications, with each requiring permission for the detail to be approved by the Council, in consultation with stakeholders and the community.
We want Otterpool Park to be a garden town for everyone and to provide a wide mix of homes for people of all needs and aspirations. This will include flats and small houses for first-time buyers, family homes and homes for people who are retired. There will be homes for rent and to buy, as well as opportunities for self-build.
The design of the homes will be guided by design principles and the master plan. Design codes will also play a part, influencing materials used, range of house types and considering local character.
The settlement will incorporate around 50% green space. We are working closely with environmental experts in many areas, including natural landscape, wildlife, pollution, energy and sustainability.
Work has included thorough research in each of these areas as well as ongoing discussion with the organisations responsible for these areas. Our proposals for Otterpool Park incorporate expansive green space and landscaping in the form of parks, meadows, woodland and riverside, as well as allotments and opportunities for food foraging.
A full environmental impact assessment has been carried out as part of our planning application, including transport impact, air quality and noise assessments. The scope of this will be agreed upon with the Environment Agency.
We have been working closely with Kent County Council, Highways England and other transport operators to plan for access and travel. Our main objective is to encourage people to use their cars less, so we can help them lead active lives and minimise air and noise pollution from traffic. All facilities will be ten minutes’ walk from where people live.
We are proposing cycleways and paths that allow easy access to everywhere people want to go, as well as cycle parking and storage, cycle training programmes and car clubs.
While inevitably there will be some out-commuting, this should be balanced against the employment opportunities that will be provided locally, through new business development, people working from home and jobs created within the schools, health facilities and shops. People have always moved to the area from London and elsewhere – many retire here and more young people are choosing to live here.
We will look into schemes that would give local people (including people with relatives here or with local jobs) the first chance to buy or rent Otterpool Park homes. Council homes will go to local people on the waiting list.
Please get in touch by email or phone, and a member of the team will add you to our database. It is unlikely that homes will be launching in the next year, but we’ll be happy to contact you as soon as plans have progressed to that stage.
If your question has not been answered, please feel free to contact us.