Home Kent News The village with an ‘undeserved reputation’ where Londoners are flocking

The village with an ‘undeserved reputation’ where Londoners are flocking

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Original article from Kent Live

People living in Aylesham made it pretty clear they didn't want thousands of new neighbours.

Several local groups objected to plans to create a massive new "Garden Village" next door when they first emerged over a decade ago.

Those people lost – and since then three major developers have descended on the east Kent village building 700 new homes so far.

It' believed that every single one has been sold.

This fact alone may surprise some, with many at the time questioning if there was a justifiable demand for such scale of housing in Aylesham, near Dover.

It was after all a place that, rightly or wrongly, had a certain reputation locally.

Maybe this was because of its status as a former mining community.

Maybe it was because it sits so close to Canterbury and a pocket of some of Kent's wealthiest villages – the likes of Wingham, Ickham, Wickhambreux and Littlebourne.

But as local councillor of many years Linda Keen pointed out, the numbers tell a different story.

'Aylesham always had a bad press'

The main market square has had a face lift

She told KentLive: "Aylesham always had a bad press but it is actually pretty much average in terms of most indices.

"One place it is a bit lower is educational attainment, the number of people going onto higher education.

"And because of its mining history there is a higher level of poor health and disabilities, but those groups are tragically quite literally dying out.

"On the whole though it comes in the middle on virtually everything – employment and things like that.

"It is a good, decent, honest, hard-working community."

This was a view shared by Cheryl Morey, who grew up there and went to Ayelsham Secondary School and now lives in Dover.

"Everyone has a certain view about Aylesham but it just wasn't like that.

"It was the type of place you felt perfectly safe to leave your bike around."

Investment

All the units are occupied in the market square

Aylesham has also benefited from investment in recent years.

It has a new health centre and its main market square has had a significant facelift recently.

A beautiful war memorial now sits in the green area in the middle.

New paving links to a large play area nearby, with open fields and more pathways to a different part of the estate beyond.

Large open areas abound

For all of these reasons, housing developers don't seem to have had a problem selling the hundreds of units they have built.

"A lot of people seem to have come from places like Sittingbourne, Medway and South London who can't afford to buy where they are.

"It's no secret that Aylesham people didn't want these houses – they fought them and it went to public inquiry and they lost.

Cllr Linda Keen standing on the border of the new and old village

"But people here get on with things, they always have, and I have to say the new people are integrating wonderfully.

"Some people from the old estate have moved over, that's helped.

"But also we've got the new people on the parish council, the new people involved in all of the local organisations.

"They've been really enthusiastic and they care about Aylesham and making it better, like all of us."

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No pub and no restaurant

It's not an entirely positive picture however, according to Cllr Keen.

She says not enough new amenities have been delivered alongside the new housing, which doesn't have new community buildings.

There's not a single pub or restaurant in the whole village either.

"They want to build another 500 houses and I'm clear that they have to put land specifically aside for these types of things.

"We need to see better education in old Aylesham.

"I can't see why they can't use more of the old secondary school site for that purpose.

"And we need to see the developers contribute to units for things like pubs and restaurants.

"Otherwise despite all the incredible work so many people are doing, there's a very real danger it will become an enormous dormitory council estate."

Original Article