Otterpool Park, Shepway's proposed garden town is designed as a solution to the housing crisis and one that does not involve extending existing towns. While many people accept the need for new housing, the project has attracted criticism from local residents in particular.
The proposed site is off M20 Junction 11, in the Westenhanger and Lympne area. Shepway District Council is working with partners to engage the public in how the future garden town will take shape, and a series of public consultation events are taking place in the next few days.
The council submitted an expression of interest to the government earlier this year, and since then they have supported the proposal. The scheme for the garden town could provide up to 12,000 homes and while it is in its infancy, the technical assessments and feasibility studies will determine what the right number will be for the development.
In an area where many people are unhappy about the plans, it is still not clear what the final proposal will look like. The final number of proposed houses is yet to be decided as is any green spaces developed within it.
As an area that sits outside an area of outstanding natural beauty, it will be interesting to see how ‘garden’ fits into the design. Will there be playing fields or will there be areas that encourage new wildlife to the site? What will the ratio of social and affordable housing be compared with privately owned houses?
There are community engagement sessions happening this week, to include the public’s voices in the masterplan. What are your thoughts on the development? What do you want for any new town? What should Otterpool Park have? Should there be a school, shops or community areas? At these sessions you can have your say about the district’s garden town, meet the design team and find out more about the timeline. Academy FM & The Folkestone Status will be there to get a sample of opinions.
Rebecca Kearney, Project Manager from Arcadis, the group who is leading the master planning on behalf of SDC, spoke about the scheme, why the decision was made and what a garden town is.
Thursday 8 December – 6.30pm – 8.30pm @ Hythe Town Hall
Friday 9 December – 2pm to 5pm @ Folkestone Racecourse
Saturday 10 December – 10am to 2pm @ Lympne Village Hall