The owner of this plot of land, located on the outskirts of the village of Hothfield, near Ashford, is looking to develop this land as in recent years it has only been used as a game farm. There are a number of different proposed developments and it is the aim of this report to suggest a suitable development for the plot of land that has a number of restrictions due to the location and also to come up with a design brief for the proposed development.
The village of Hothfield is located just over 2 miles away from junction 9 of the M20 motorway which runs from the M25 to the seaside town of Folkstone. The village is also set just a few miles north of Ashford, one of Kent’s major towns. The village of Hothfield is generally one that has a low level of family income which therefore has an affect on house prices in the area. There are few shops in the village and the local school has recently closed due lack of pupils attending. The village also has the River Stour running through and parts of the village are on a flood plain as well as a flood way. Hothfield has very few facilities in the village, most of which are located in Ashford. There is also no train station in the village and also a very irregular bus service with poor standard bus stops.
The proposed development site is located at Home Farm, set around 250m from the centre of Hothfield. The site is approximately 5acres in area but is set on a hill which could prove difficult during the design process. The entrance to the site, down Park Drive, is however, on low ground and the flood plain would reduce access to the site. The site is currently being used as a game & poultry farm but the current owner of the land is looking to develop the land for financial gain. A number of different proposals will be evaluated throughout this report.
The idea of developing the plot of land into a children’s educational farm is one that would suit the local surroundings. The farm would have very little construction cost but the maintenance of the place would be particularly expensive. The development would make use of the current levels of the land and also help the maintenance.
The site is located very close to the M20 motorway as well as the main A20 road. The lack of public transport in the area would not be a major problem as the majority of people visiting would be going by either coach or by car. There would need to be a number of shops and a restaurant constructed on the site as the village has a only one shop which closes in the afternoon and one restaurant which is not within walking distance. A new road would need to be constructed into the site as the current roads leading to the site are of poor quality and would not be suitable for large coaches.
The Local Area
This proposal would have a very positive influence on the local community. Hothfield have a number of unemployed residents and this would provide the local residents with a number of jobs. Also, as there is not much construction that would need to be done on the site which would be positive for the environment.
This proposal would benefit both the local community and the environment. It would also have low construction costs. However, for this to work in the long run, turnover for the farm would have to be sufficient in order for maintenance of the animals and buildings.
‘Operation Stack’ Lorry Park
In recent weeks, there has been plenty of talk about a new lorry park being constructed for the operation stack. This is when the M20 is closed and used as one big lorry park when there is a problem with cross-channel crossings. The 5 acre site would provide space for a number of lorries and would also have low construction costs however it would not get much use.
A lorry park could be constructed particularly easily and the infrastructure needed is minimal. What would be needed is for there to be a more direct access route from the motorway to the park to save the residents hassle of having large amounts of heavy goods vehicles go through their quiet village. The route through the village is also not suitable due to the fact that there are a number of cars parked along the local roads and lorries would be unable to get through. This would be unavoidable as a number of the houses do not have driveways.
The Local Area
This proposed development would have a detrimental effect on the local area. A large area of grassland on their doorstep would be tarmacd over leaving a number of local wildlife homeless. Also, the local residents would be unhappy having a large lorry-park, only getting used once a month on their doorstep with very little return for the local community.
I do not think that this would be a feasible option. It would not benefit the local community and would also not be good for the environment. I also think that maintenance would be a severe problem when it hasn’t been used for a few months. It could also prove to be a crime-hotspot with young people racing cars in the park at nighttimes thus causing a policing problem.
Affordable Housing Development
Due to the current rate in which housing prices are continuously rising, affordable housing is becoming a lot more fashionable. On the 5 acre plot of land then the size of the village of Hothfield would double. The development could range from 1 bedroom houses to 5 bedroom houses for those with large families.
In order for a development of this size to be constructed then it would need some serious money invested in the local infrastructure. There is only 1 shop in the village which closes part way through the day. There are also extremely poor transport links; irregular bus services and no train station. Also, the local school has recently closed is unlikely to reopen. Healthcare services in the region are also at least two miles away, most of which are in Ashford.
Council tax for Ashford Council is much higher than the English average. This would not suit those looking for low cost homes. Also, the construction would have a bad impact on the environment as it would mean that new homes are being built on farmland. If the houses were to be built on this land then they would most probably have to achieve an eco-homes rating of very good or excellent in order to gain planning permission.
This would be a very expensive project should it go ahead but would be a good addition to the local area should the houses have low carbon emissions. Planning permission would be very likely to be given. Again, a new access route, or maybe two, would need to be constructed due to the high volumes of traffic that would be leaving the estate at rush hour times. However, I feel that the lack of infrastructure in place would make the development far too costly for the client.
I propose to construct an education farm on the plot of land. I feel that this is the most suitable development for a number of reasons. Firstly, I feel that due to a significant number of local residents either being unemployed or retired that this development would provide the unemployed with a number of full-time jobs and possibly provide the retired a part-time job so they can carry on earning some money. Also, due to the close proximity to the M20 motorway, it will be easy for teaching groups to come from all around Kent and beyond. Also, due to global warming and people proactively fighting pollution, a project such as this would have next to no carbon emissions, this will also help keep the costs down of when the farm is up and running. I also think that this farm would be the most suitable idea due to the flood way running along the site. Flooding would not disrupt the farm as much as it would a housing development. I feel that planning permission would be no problem as there is a very small footprint and also I believe that the local community would give their backing to a project of this nature.
Access Route – The access route shall be suitable for full coaches to drive along without any problems. It should also be wide enough for two coaches to pass each other going in opposite directions. It shall also link directly to the A20 main road in order to keep traffic flow out of the village.
Car-park – The car-park shall be large enough to hold 40 cars and 10 coaches. All of these spaces must be unobstructed from the exit to ensure that there are no problems when people wish to leave. There will also be an overflow car park which will have the capacity to hold another 40 cars. There must be adequate measures in place to ensure that no cars can get into the overflow until the main car-park is full.
Restaurant – The restaurant must be able to house 25 tables for eating and another 25 tables for those wishing to have drinks. It must also have a terraced area with suitable shrubbery. A gift shop must be partitioned off from the main area inside the restaurant.
Farmhouse – The main farmhouse must be divided into a number of rooms. There must be three teaching rooms all with PowerPoint capabilities. Fixed desks are also required. The other rooms in the building are to have internet and television sockets for future use. Sustainable energy must be used. A report must be done to ascertain the form of this renewable energy.
Outside Areas – There must be suitable fencing for animals to be penned in. Troughs and watering holes must be provided. Shelter must be provided in all pens for all animals.
Pathways – Pathways must be constructed of weather resistant material and must tie in with the local surroundings (Possibly bark paving). They must have sufficient, discreet lighting and run past all animal pens.
Landscaping – There must be plenty of shrubbery in order to help the low carbon emission rating. It must tie in with the local environment and be planting that will not affect the animals.