Full to the brim? George and Seb investigate plans to build thousands of homes in the Ashford area.

The south-east of England is densely populated enough. But in Kent (particularly Ashford and Tenterden), the Government demands that more houses are to be built. Why is this happening and what effect will it have on us?

Why?

Ashford, with its International railway station, is a place within the commuter belt. Having high speed train links between London and France, many people pass through here to get to work. For people with lower salaries, buying a home in Ashford and commuting to London is cheaper than buying in London. So for this generation and the next, having a home here will mean a cheaper alternative to London whilst allowing people to still get to work easily if they work in London or enable them to live and work within the area.

When?

By 2030, around 13,200 new homes are supposed to be built in the Ashford area, with 5,700 to be built in an earmarked site at Chilmington Green. A further 1,200 homes will be built at Finberry. The rest are around the Ashford area.

Who are they for?

The government aim to build 300,000 new homes every year in England as the population increases. Since the southeast is close to Europe and London, it is a prime location for commuters.

Where?

New houses will not just affect Ashford. A further 15,000 are to be built in Gravesend, 12,000 more in Shepway and 3,000 in Sevenoaks. 16,000 homes will be built in the already crowded Canterbury by 2030 when only around 6,500 new jobs will be created in the area by that time. This may see a rise in poverty, not just per capita but also per district. The only districts without shortfalls in jobs will be Gravesham and Dartford.

Why does it matter?

Hothfield Common, on the outskirts of Ashford and near Charing, is one of the last remaining lowland bog habitats in England (there are still a number in Scotland and Wales). It has a huge variety of wildlife and harbours very rare species such as oyster beetles and the 3 lobed crowfoot flower. These new homes will pollute the water source to the bogs and have a very detrimental effect on the local wildlife. Also, air pollution levels will increase dramatically. Many of these houses will have cars, sometimes two or three, so this realistically could mean an extra 24,000 cars on our roads, not just affecting the air and the animals, but us too. Then there is the huge list of over 70 bus services being scrapped. Apparently this will make roads less congested, but with the extra 24,000 potential new cars on the road, how will people without cars, for example students at school and university, get around? Can the council afford to scrap these buses? And can they really afford to build so many new houses?