Yesterday was very busy – I dropped off my youngest at school, then drove over to Ashford, where Paul Clokie, Leader of Ashford Borough Council and David Hill his Chief Executive briefed me on Ashford’s amazing plans for the future. As one of the Government’s key growth areas, there’s a lot of pressure to build new homes in large numbers. Yet Ashford have managed to retain real control over both the numbers of new homes, and more importantly, the style and quality of both the housing and the ‘public domain’ – roads, pavements, street lighting and furniture.
After a private briefing, we boarded a minibus and I enjoyed a tour of the area. I saw at first hand the housing, shops and roads which are slowly springing up around Ashford. It was certainly invaluable to see at first hand the scale of Ashford’s plans.
The challenge now is to make sure that all this new development doesn’t leave Ashford as a dormitory, but instead brings opportunity, learning, employment and quality of life.
Judging from the people I met yesterday, it certainly won’t be for want of trying.