Property News

Consultation into wheelchair-friendly bungalows

Plan entails demolition of 22 garages to be replaced by four affordable dwellings

Ashford Borough Council is seeking to build four new one-bedroom wheelchair-compatible bungalows on the Plantation Close garage site in Hothfield and is inviting local residents to have their say.

Usually, the council would hold an event in a community hall. But, due to Coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, this is not possible. So, in line with a raft of recent redevelopment plans, the Plantation Close consultation has moved online. Residents will find a video explaining the proposals, plans and documents and a questionnaire for people to complete and ask questions of officers and the architects involved.

In recent months the council has run several online consultations into plans to develop sites. Those consultations prompted some interesting community engagement and plans are now being revised in light of the constructive comments made.


This is the first of two opportunities people will have to comment on the Plantation Close scheme. The housing service holds a pre-planning event, aimed at identifying the thoughts of the community. It then takes these comments into consideration and adapt its proposals before they are submitted to the council’s planning committee. The council then go through the planning process and residents will have a second, more formal opportunity to comment on the application at this stage.

Cllr Bill Barrett, portfolio holder for housing, says: “There are around 1,350 people on our waiting list for affordable housing, with 144 of these requiring a flush floor shower. Many of these are older people who depend on affordable housing and need somewhere to live that is more suitable for their needs.

“Throughout the pandemic the Government has prioritised construction as an essential industry, ensuring that there remains a national focus on delivering good quality council housing. Like every other authority in the UK, we must do our bit to try to alleviate the housing issues we face.”

Plantation Close – the background

The site in Plantation Close consists of 22 garages, of which 11 are let. To the south of the site there are semi-detached bungalows, and to the north two-storey terraced houses. Nearby is a children’s centre, post office and village hall and Hothfield heathland.

Plantation Close – the proposals

The proposal is to demolish the garages and replace them with four one-bedroom bungalows suitable for people in wheelchairs. The intention is that they will be allocated to people on the council’s housing waiting list needing social and affordable rental homes. The council will aim to set affordable rent levels on these homes that are around 60-80% of market rent levels in the area. This is to ensure the homes are genuinely affordable. These rent levels will be within the Local Housing Allowance.

The design

The proposals have been designed by BPTW Architects who are highly experienced at providing desirable homes and places that fully consider the surrounding area and properties. Quality design and materials are important to the council, it wants its developments to complement and enhance the local area. The bungalows are designed to be fully wheelchair accessible.

Subject to obtaining the relevant planning permissions, work is expected to begin on site within a year and the build time will be around eight months.

Information about the plans will be posted to local residents. Those with an interest can also find out more by visiting www.ashford.gov.uk/plantation-close-consultation and/or watch the short video (below) produced by the architects. The deadline for comment is April 9.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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