The proposal has been informed by suite of comprehensive technical and environmental reports that have identified the following opportunities and constraints.
The proposal has been environmentally led being informed at an early stage by a suite of comprehensive technical and environmental reports that have identified the following opportunities and constraints, which have been carefully considered and responded to in the evolution of the emerging masterplan as follows:
The site benefits from direct access to the A22, meaning that it is ideally located to accommodate development that does not rely upon access through the Town Centre. The access strategy on the masterplan therefore proposes access to the residential development site for all vehicles from a new roundabout junction with the A22.
The site is also in proximity to a number of existing pedestrian and cycle connections to the Town Centre, and the emerging proposals are seeking to enhance these to benefit the new residents and existing local community. For instance, through creation of new and enhanced sections of footway on Snatts Road and replacement of existing steps along route of public footpath between Downland Copse and Hunters Way.
The proposal includes the provision of linked green space throughout the site which will provide opportunities for formal and informal recreation and play. This green infrastructure is to be linked to a circa 17 hectare new woodland park incorporating Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG), which will deliver enhancement to recreation through the site, which will again be of benefit to the new residents and existing local community.
The West Park Local Nature Reserve is located to the south, and the masterplan has therefore sought to provide new habitats and enhance existing habitats which are connected to it. These include new planting and the management of existing woodland along the A22.
The Site includes substantial areas of Ancient Woodland and watercourses which are to be retained, protected, and enhanced for people and wildlife. These assets provide the structure for the masterplan proposals.
Ecological survey work has identified the best areas of habitats and how they are used by animal species, and these have been factored into the design. Management proposals will also take into account these species.
Views towards the site from the wider landscape are minimal due, primarily, to surrounding woodland and development. However, where they have been identified, notably from more elevated locations to the north-west of the site including within the High Weald AONB (over 5km distant) they have informed the landscape led approach to masterplanning so minimising noticeable changes to the view.
Listed Buildings comprising the Grade II listed Oast Cottage and a Grade II listed barn at Downlands Farm are located adjacent to the southeast boundary of the Site. In response to this, the masterplan retains the fieldscapes surrounding the listed buildings as part of the green infrastructure, ensuring that the agricultural character of these buildings’ settings are preserved.