Analysis of the Character of the Parish
The Parish of Eastling is a rural parish dominated by agriculture and steeped in the history of Kent. The area is served by a network of foot paths, bridleways, narrow lanes and roadways linking to the main road between Faversham and Lenham.
Eastling village boasts a rich variety of ancient buildings which include a 12th century Church, an early manor house and a part Tudor inn. Additional properties of particular interest are Tong House, Porch House, Divan Court, and The Old Rectory. There are many old and lovely houses which adjoin the main street.
The diversity of style of the properties within the village results in a wide range of local materials being used in their construction. Timber clad buildings intersperse with brick and stone houses. Traditional Kent peg tiles are interspersed with slate on many of the older roofs.
The majority of the houses abut the main streets of Newnham Lane, Kettle Hill Road, The Street and Faversham Road. There has been a degree of infilling of the years but all properties enjoy open views of the countryside. Two small estates, Meeson's Close and Glebe Cottages, have provided more modern housing in the form of cul-de-sacs retaining open space and clear views.
Agriculture dominates the Parish. Formerly ancient cherry orchards covered much of the area but since the early 1960's age and changes in the market forces have resulted in most of the old orchards being grubbed out. Arable farming and grazing for sheep now lead with the large estates owned by the Belmont Trust, Arnold's Oak and the Coultrip family.
Eastling offers an attractive location for visitors. As it occupies a key position on the North Downs, bed and breakfast accommodation and an attractive inn should provide for the needs of tourists. The area is extremely popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Swale Borough Council and the Environment Agency supported the parish with grants to build a new village hall, funding countryside stewardship schemes and the replanting of one of the few remaining old cherry orchards.
The Parish of Eastling naturally centres on the Church. Its beautiful surroundings remain the key to the heart of the Parish and must be retained.
The area is blessed with substantial hedgerows and trees. Sensitive management is required to ensure that they continue to provide a diversity of form to the countryside and support additional wild life.
Development must be consistent with the Swale Borough Council's local plan and the principles and objectives of Kent Design.
New developments, alterations and extensions should reflect the rural nature of the village. Designs should be sensitive to residents' enjoyment of privacy, views and restrained noise levels.
Building material use should reflect the character of the area and changes should fall within current building guidelines regarding height and density.
Where older buildings are to be renovated or repaired such work should be carried out using traditional techniques and materials wherever possible.
Posters, Notice Boards, Street Furniture and Signage should be avoided, but where necessary should be sympathetic to the general area.
Eastling wishes to encourage environmentally friendly practices and conservation opportunities provided that they do not cause unnecessary problems.
Design for new properties must address the provision of access to and parking for motor vehicles with "off-road" facilities being promoted whenever possible.
Where development or alteration is proposed, the use of such premises should include the provision of building conditions, where relevant, to ensure that the intentions of the approval are guaranteed.
It is essential to ensure that the use of poor quality, non traditional and inappropriate materials in the construction, alteration or repair of new or existing properties does not adversely affect the character of the Parish
The approval of affordable housing would modify the Community.
Infill along the main roads would allow further development but back fill should be avoided to ensure that the tradition of open views is maintained.
An increasing population brings with it the problems of increased traffic flow. A priority should be to address the problem of vehicles parked on The Street. With few pavements, restricted street lighting and a 40 mph speed limit the main street is a potential danger.
The attraction of the village to walkers, cyclists and horse riders must be enhanced, as nationally leisure opportunities become more extensive. The use of existing footpaths and bridleways should be encouraged and where possible landowners should consider providing additional access.
It is essential to maintain the inherent beauty of the Parish by ensuring that the views across the open countryside are unobstructed. The trustees of the Belmont Estate and the Farm Manager in particular have made every effort to keep the footpaths, bridleways and hedgerows in good condition and their efforts are greatly appreciated by the Community.
Access throughout the area to the woodland, pastures and walkways are the core of the Community for its leisure pursuits and should be enhanced wherever possible.
The preservation, restoration and continued planting of trees and hedgerows should be encouraged. Local varieties of plants and trees should be used and the use of fast growing conifers discouraged.
It is essential that the skills and knowledge held by local people is not lost and that every opportunity is taken to document and dissimulate this knowledge. Local interest groups have a vital role to play.
All new planning applications must be viewed with regard to the need for motor vehicle parking and movements.
Currently The Street of Eastling is unsympathetic to the needs of motorists or the safety of pedestrians.
Where street furniture is used its construction should be in keeping with the rural nature of the village
The safety of children is paramount and it is noted that there are few pavements and safe crossing points to access the village school. Increasing traffic movement worsens this potential problem.
In 1996 the Countryside Agency launched a national strategy to encourage local communities to publish statements that captured the detailed characteristics that make their community unique. The publication on 28th November 2000 of the Rural White Paper ("Our Countryside: The Future. A fair Deal for Rural England") further reinforces the importance of local design statements in national planning strategy. The White Paper wants "people living in rural areas (to be) fully involved in developing their community, safeguarding its valued features, and shaping the decisions that affect them …… to identify key facilities and services, to set out the problems that need to be tackled and demonstrate how its distinctive character and features can be preserved." Throughout the development of a statement for the Parish of Eastling, support has been received from planning and conservation officers at Swale Borough Council.
© Eastling Village 2017
Designed and maintained by David Ainsworth