A flourishing community of new homes in Kent
An exciting new community of Taylor Wimpey homes in Kent is taking shape – and one person will be playing a vital role in its future.
Karen Byrne is the newly-appointed Community Development Trust manager for Leybourne Chase, Taylor Wimpey’s stunning collection of new homes in West Malling.
It’s her job to support the trust, which has been set up by Taylor Wimpey and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), as it becomes an independent organisation which reflects the local community, with trustees representing residents of the Leybourne Chase development in West Malling and the surrounding area as well as other partner organisations.
The trust will own and manage the 140 acres of green open space surrounding the new properties in West Malling – including parks, recreation grounds, fields, children’s playgrounds, sports pitches, ‘trim trail’ footpaths, community allotments, a lake and an arboretum – plus facilities such as the community centre.
Indeed, Karen fully appreciates the idyllic rural setting which it will be the trust’s job to preserve and maintain for the residents and wider community.
“Leybourne Chase is stunning – it’s an outstanding location,” she says. “There’s mature woodland, as well as bluebells, stacks of different wild flowers, bats, butterflies and birds, there’s so much going on and so much of it is being preserved. I’ve seen it in a couple of seasons now and it’s absolutely gorgeous.”
Initially Karen’s been busy getting to know people and gathering information so that she can gain a clear overview of all those with a stake in the future of this new community and their requirements.
She’ll then be able to guide the trust as it takes shape and, as it takes over the ownership of the site, provide its trustees with the information they need to make decisions which will benefit the whole community.
“It’s very much community-led in the widest sense. The board of trustees will reflect everyone involved to make sure everyone’s voices are heard,” explains Karen. “If people are moving into new homes at Leybourne Chase now they have a fantastic opportunity to get really involved. My job will be making recommendations and supporting the board in the decision-making process.”
Karen’s role also involves being an important conduit for information between everyone involved in the site.
“One of the most important things is getting a website for the trust up and running as soon as possible,” she comments, “as it will be a useful tool for residents as well as being a source of information for people who are thinking of moving to Leybourne Chase.”
Karen has extensive experience in the sector, having previously worked for eight years as regional development manager for the Development Trusts Association, supporting organisations just like the one she is now managing at Leybourne Chase.
A mum of two grown-up sons, she commutes from her home in Hythe, which is about 30 miles away on the Kent coast, but with Leybourne Chase’s well-connected location her commute is a breeze.
“Leybourne Chase feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s near the M20 and mainline stations, so access is stunningly good. It’s so easy to get to, just three minutes off the motorway,” says Karen, adding: “As you drive in you see these huge tracts of mature woodland. It’s a lovely place to come to work.”
There’s currently a superb selection of homes available at Leybourne Chase. One and two-bedroom apartments are priced from just £170,000 and £180,000 respectively, while four-bedroom homes are available from only £300,000. Five-bedroom properties are priced from £490,000.
Leybourne Chase forms part of the Hospital Sites Programme run by the HCA to bring 96 former hospital sites back into productive use. As well as working with Taylor Wimpey to develop the site, the HCA is providing funding to ensure new and affordable homes are available for the local community.
For commuters, West Malling railway station is just over a mile from the development and provides regular services to London Victoria. Maidstone is only seven miles away by road, while quick links to the M20 mean central London is within easy reach.
For further information, visit taylorwimpey.co.uk.