Harwood Savin has provided strategic and planning application advice to K College in respect of campuses in Ashford and Folkestone since 2010, and more recently the new Ashford College, regarding the Ashford Campus.
Ashford – Elwick Road
In 2010, K College embarked on a major self-funded capital investment programme with the current focus being on the delivery of a new state of the art College campus of approximately 14,500sqm on a key strategic site Ashford Town Centre. The College originally secured a resolution to grant planning permission for a new Learning Campus on another site in Ashford in 2008, but the scheme did not progress due to the collapse of Central Government funding for further education development schemes.
Our advice comprised the preparation and submission of a detailed planning application for a new College and Technology Centre on a town centre site, located partly within the conservation area. The new facilities will replace existing outdated accommodation elsewhere in Ashford. Key issues have included the demolition of buildings within the conservation area, potential for archaeology, removal of Japanese Knotweed, parking provision, the proximity of the proposals to the protected Memorial Gardens and the impact of the proposals on the Conservation Area. The scheme represented a minor departure from the Town Centre Area Action Plan and a detailed policy justification was required as to the over-riding benefits of the proposals in the context of policy.
The new College application was advanced in parallel with the renewal of outline planning permission for 241 residential units, comprising enabling development, on the College’s existing campus at Jemmett Road. The sale of the Jemmett Road site was ultimately intended to partly cross fund the new College at Elwick Road.
K College has also successfully secured a detailed viability case for a significant reduction in Section 106 Contributions across both the new College scheme and the enabling residential development proposals. Ashford Borough Council’s planning committee resolved to grant permission for the new Campus at Elwick Road and residential proposals at Jemmett Road in September 2011.
Shortly after the 2011 resolution, K College was placed in financial administration and the funding application was unsuccessful and the project stalled. In 2014 the Hadlow College Group were successful in their bid last year to take over the Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Ashford Campuses of the former K College and have re-branded the Ashford Campus as Ashford College. We have worked alongside the College and HNW Architects to revise the original scheme, which maintains the original design intent of a landmark building on this important site, and meets the College’s teaching requirements within a restrictive budgetary environment. Following extensive discussions, planning consent was granted on 1 April 2015 subject to a considerably reduced S106 Agreement for a phased development of circa 11,000 sqm.
Ashford – Jemmett Road
Harwood Savin has advised the College on the renewal of outline planning permission for 241 residential units on the College’s existing campus, to facilitate the development of a new campus in Ashford Town Centre at Elwick Road.
From the outset we advised on the most timely and cost effective planning strategy and the form and content of the renewal application submission. Following submission it was critical to ensure that the application was considered quickly and in parallel with the College’s Elwick Road proposals, where we were responsible for leading negotiations with the Council.
Harwood Savin was successful in the co-ordination and delivery of a comprehensive viability exercise and exceptional needs case to minimize S106 contributions including those in respect of affordable housing, resulting in a reduction in S106 contributions from circa £2m to circa £500,000 and affordable housing from 30% to 10%. This had a significant impact upon the overall viability of the proposals and the ability of the College to cross fund the new state of the art proposals at Elwick Road.
Following a resolution to grant planning permission, Harwood Savin worked closely with the College’s solicitors in the Section 106 negotiations and provided ongoing advice in respect of planning conditions.
• Development Plan Monitoring
• Pre-application advice
• Planning applications
• Section 106 negotiations
• Public consultation