Big threat to Green Corridor
Two conferences were held in April and July concerning
the future growth of Ashford, based on the premise that 31,000 houses need
to be built and 29,000 jobs created between 2001 and 2031. People
expressed a desire for a compact form of growth. This essentially means
higher density development in the town. However, to accommodate all 31,000
houses development will have to cover much of the surrounding countryside
as well. There is a danger of losing vital green corridors in the town if
development is given the go ahead. One of the key Green Corridors
threatened, even though it is in the floodplain, is South Willesborough
Dykes Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). This site is important
for water violet, marsh stitchwort (the only site in Kent where this plant
is found), wading birds, many species of dragonfly, and is likely to have
otter and water vole. The area, with management, could also provide a
valuable green corridor for people to walk and cycle through if it could
be released from owners hoping to develop.
Students, children and the general public took part in a
photography competition to celebrate the diversity of the Ashford Green
Corridor. South Willesborough and Newtown Environment Group helped to
organise the competition and chose three categories - people, wildlife and
nature, and landscapes. As part of the project, local photographer, Laura
Thomas organised a phototrail in part of the Green Corridor for Instant
Muscle, a group of entry to employment students based in the town centre,
and 1st Great Chart beavers. Prizes for the competition were
provided by Snappy Snaps and Andrews Photography. The winning pictures
were published in the Kentish Express and displayed in the town centre and
the Swan Centre, Newtown.
Beavering away at a new pond…
A new pond has been created on part of the Ashford Green
Corridor Local Nature Reserve adjacent to the River Great Stour. 1st
Great Chart beavers have adopted the new pond as it is close to their hut
and within easy walking distance. They have been busy planting the pond up
with plants commonly found around pond edges and plan to revisit the pond
later in the year to see the benefits of all their hard work. As part of
the project they visited an established pond at Buxford Meadow to learn
about the pond life and carried out some river dipping on the Great Stour.
Plans are afoot to excavate another pond near Great Chart!
Piecing it together
Children from the Phoenix School breakfast club joined
forces with the Ashford YMCA, Stour Valley Arts and Green Corridor Officer
to create a Giant Green Corridor jigsaw puzzle. The giant work of art
shows the wealth of wildlife found in the town, along its rivers and in
parks and gardens. The children worked really hard on the project and were
keen to show the rest of the school their arty efforts by giving an
assembly and displaying the puzzle in the school hall. The puzzle was also
displayed in the Stour Centre Leisure Centre for all to admire (and play
Art workshops have been taking place
with the Whole Hog Art Company and have included making minibeasts, bats
and dragonflies. The Ashford Girls Brigade rounded off their year of
events with a visit to Buxford Meadow to learn about river wildlife and
took part in a workshop making crayfish. The 6th Ashford
Beavers kicked off the programme of art workshops by working with local
artist Nikki Dennington making charcoal prints using natural materials.
Nikki and Rosemary also worked with the Ashford YMCA and young asylum
seekers from the Finding Your Feet programme based in Ashford on a series
of art workshops.
Meet the Meadows!
Cyclists, dog walkers and children have gradually
watched the development of a meadow area in one of Ashford’s parks.
Queen Mother’s Park was developed as a trial meadow area by Kentish
Stour Countryside Project and Ashford Borough Council in 2003. Since then
the meadow has become established and extended. Plans to increase its
biodiversity by introducing wildflowers will go ahead this autumn. The
meadow is cut in the early autumn and the cuttings are removed and
composted by a local agricultural contractor. Following the success of the
trial, further areas have been converted to meadow this year with a total
of 1.3 ha (3 acres) being created so far.