New Ash Green, a Kentish Dream

Hands up those who have been to New Ash Green. It is essentially a village new ‘town’ in Kent that was developed by Span in 1967, one of a number of modernist projects designed by architect Eric Lyons in the south-east.

The concept sought to create a style of community living that saw various related iterations in that era. Housing was divided into 24 areas, deploying cul-de-sacs and gardens with a shopping precinct at its heart. The early homes were modern but many embraced a traditional Kentish style with tiling and weatherboarding. DJ Pete Murray was hired for the big opening. He was one of Radio 1’s original presenters, here pictured in the centre.

Originally Greater London Council agreed to buy 450 homes for rent but the incoming Tory administration cancelled those plans. The project started to founder and in 1971 it was sold to Bovis, who built without any of the aesthetics or lofty aspirations of its designers.

The precinct is a small labyrinth of walkways and curves but has suffered from a lack of investment from an absentee landlord. The Guardian said it feels “like a shotgun marriage between two visions of the future: the same-old-same-old, and what-might-have-been.”

Some of the shopping units look unloved but within their midst lie two pubs. One is a micro, the Vault, that opened just before covid. Tucked away in a corner it had a few well settled drinkers and a range of beers.

My first pick was well on the turn. The owner asked if it was alright and changed it immediately when I said no. It’s replacement, Hophead, was in good condition.

The other is The Badger, which had two handpumps with the badges turned round and a seemingly continuous stream of mums entering with they’d young offspring. Whatpub says it has a restaurant run by a Masterchef semi-finalist but on a weekday afternoon the bar itself felt anything but gastro.

New Ash Green is well worth exploring. Just don’t try to pay with one of these.

14 thoughts on “New Ash Green, a Kentish Dream

  1. This is a classic post.

    It’s short (I can read it in the time taken to drink a pint of Doom Bar), the photos are all interesting, it has a cut-out-and-keep £20 note that’s probably legal tender in Dover, and it makes me want to go to New Ash Green NOW (well, not NOW, it’s too dark).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. By the way I think I had a quick look round before I had a job interview at the Brands Hatch Hotel over the road in 2004. Actually “trial by sherry” in the evening following by a tortured interview the next morning. If the hotel gets in the GBG would that sherry count as a tick ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Martin, I think I mentioned before that I did my IOSH Safety Management course at that hotel, round about this time last year. I didn’t venture down to the bar, but if it matched the standard of the dried-up sandwiches that were laid out for us at lunchtime, that tells you all you need to know about the Brands Hatch Hotel.

      I didn’t have you down as a sherry drinker, btw!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve lived in Kent for most of my 67 years, but despite currently residing just 17 miles away by road, I have never been to New Ash Green. Sure, I’ve heard of the place and even read a few things about it, but to my shame have never set foot in the place.

    I always knew there was something I ought to know about this interesting “village development, so thanks Pubmeister for enlightening us about its history, and the way in which party politics spoiled what started out as quite a noble concept.

    ps. I might take a bus trip out there on one of my days off, and make use of my “old gits” bus pass!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Paul. It’s well worth a wander round. Didn’t really get enough time there. The Vault seems to be open 12-10/11 seven days a week. Didn’t get to the Royal Oak which pops up on Whatpub.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This week I stopped in Fernwood. just south of Newark and yards off the A1, a newish business park and residential development with a micropub. Despite (like you I suspect) driving past it dozens of times in recent years I’d never heard of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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