About . . . achieving a long–held Ashford vision

The resolution to grant planning permission for Conningbrook Lakes in May 2013 marks an important step towards the achievement of a long-held vision for Ashford Borough Council.

The authority recognised the potential for a family–orientated country park in what was then still a largely industrialised environment as local quarry operator Brett Aggregates progressively restored land it had worked for sand and gravel. Today, after two years of intensive effort and consultation with the local community, that vision is set to become a reality, with the houses providing the funding for the main country park facilities.

Ashford Borough Council has also been granted planning permission for initial use of the country park prior to the houses being built, meaning work can now start to make some sections of the park available for sports clubs and the general public early next year.

Further development of the country park’s facilities will be linked to funding from the phased housing development.

Ashford Borough Council head of cultural and project services Mark Carty said: “Conningbrook Lakes will ultimately be one of the best facilities of its kind in the South East, offering a combination of sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, walking, cycling and family friendly leisure all in one place, and in stunning surroundings.

 

“Conningbrook will also retain and develop its status as an angling venue of regional and national significance, and the local wildlife will benefit from the re-creation and enhancement of wetland meadow, lakeside and riverside habitats throughout the site.

“We are currently finalising arrangements with a number of specialist partner organisations that will work with us to operate and manage the country park and will be making further announcements once these are concluded.”

The Brett Group has worked closely with the Borough Council at Conningbrook for a number of years.  The company made some of its land available and then won the contract to build the Julie Rose Stadium, which brought high quality athletics facilities to the town. Since then, it has continued to work with the council to evolve ideas for a strategic country park on its site .

In June 2011, the council reaffirmed its draft strategic policy and after extensive consultation with local people, partners and stakeholders, the authority agreed that making the Conningbrook Lakes project happen was a priority.

It was clear early on that the project would have to be achieved without any financial burden on local council tax payers, and that it must be financially self-sustaining once created. With that in mind, it was agreed that some form of development was needed on part of the site in order to create and fund the country park facilities and also to enable Brett to offer its land for the project and relocate its operations elsewhere in the Borough.

The various elements of the country park proposals are demonstrated through the pages of this website. Ashford Borough Council has been involving local groups in the thinking process that has determined the facilities now proposed for the country park.