Crest Nicholson is set to begin work on the first phase of its much-anticipated 168 hectare development at Finberry - the former Cheeseman’s Green site located on the south eastern outskirts of Ashford. With plans for a new community comprising 1,180 homes, this was the first site in England to sign up for the Government’s Get Britain Building programme. The development received £2.3million of investment via the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in 2012, which enabled Crest Nicholson to move forward with infrastructure and earthworks on the site near Ashford.
The scheme will be delivered in fourteen phases, with phase one, which will be known as Stour Meadows, consisting of 140 two and three bedroom cottages and four bedroom family homes. Planning permission has recently been granted for a further 245 units in phase two, and Crest Nicholson intends to submit planning permission for phase three’s homes in early 2014.
Alongside the much needed housing, construction is also underway to provide seven hectares of commercial space, as well as the necessary infrastructure to support a thriving community from its inception in phase one. Such amenities will include a primary school, convenience store, local restaurant, health centre and various communal facilities such as a community centre and sports pitches. Captain’s Wood, an area designated as ancient woodland, will also exist centrally at Finberry, offering residents the unique opportunity to live amongst an area rich in ecology.
The first phase of development will provide a 1km access road linking the development to the A2070, and is due to be completed by the end of 2013.
An extensive plan for landscaping across the site is also well underway, with land used from the construction of the access road remediated into agricultural use. Tree and hedgerow planting has also commenced, as has the construction of three ornamental lakes that will run parallel with the route of the access road and surround the development’s perimeter.
From January 2014, the show house complex in phase one’s Stour Meadows will open to prospective purchasers, and will be reached by the new access road. The entrance to the site will also include two new pieces of public art, jointly commissioned by Crest Nicholson and CABE at the Design Council, which will be unveiled early in the New Year in conjunction with the official site opening.
Stephen Stone, Chief Executive of Crest Nicholson, commented: “We have spent a long time ensuring that the plans for Finberry genuinely enhance the existing locality, and that we are not only building a mix of new homes, but also implementing the necessary infrastructure to cultivate and support a new and thriving neighbourhood. With all the supporting lifestyle and leisure facilities in place to harness a vibrant and sustainable community, Finberry will deliver a real boost to the Ashford area, and it’s exciting to see these plans now coming to fruition.”
Stephen added: “Building much needed new housing in partnership with the public sector is an essential objective for us, and the scale of this site makes it a significant addition to the local housing market. We are committed to developing a prosperous community that not only creates new homes, but also brings new life and new long-term opportunities to the area.”
Cllr David Robey, portfolio holder for planning and development, said: “This marks the start of a major new community being built in Ashford. The site, which includes 1,180 new homes, a primary school, community centre, employment space, shops including a supermarket, parks and play areas, is the largest we have seen in the borough since 2002 and is a sign of the sustained confidence in the Ashford market.
“Not only will the development mean new homes and community facilities, it will provide many new jobs locally, from the construction phase right through to its completion. We look forward to seeing a vibrant, thriving community develop over the coming years and to welcoming the many new families that move to the area, from near and far, to set up home here in Ashford.”
Finberry was the first development in Britain to be awarded government support from the Get Britain Building Fund via the HCA - the government’s national housing and land agency. The HCA is investing £570m nationally through the programme, enabling up to 16,000 new homes to be built across the country, protecting and creating thousands of jobs in construction. £2.3million was advanced to Crest Nicholson to deliver 100 market and affordable homes.