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Our aim is to provide information about the land at Prince’s Parade – its history and in particular the current threat to develop it.

On 28th May 2014 the Shepway Cabinet voted unanimously to accept the officer’s recommendation (see below) but added a proposal to have a restrictive covenant to protect the remaining open space and also the words ” if practically available” regarding the capital receipts from the linked development sites.

You can watch the whole of the meeting on  here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwnQ0MpXJyQ&feature=youtu.be

Well done to Councillor Dearden (and Councillor Owen in the background) for sticking up for the people of Hythe.

Doubts were expressed about the consultants’ estimates of cost particularly in view of Jim Martin’s calculations and Jeremy Chambers agreed to ask them for more detail – surely he should have done that before. He said he would post them on the website. He also said that the consultants’s reports were “high level” whatever that means.

You can read the consultants’ reports here.

 

The results of the previous public consultations were glossed over. At the event on Friday 23 May  141 questionaires were submitted – 28 voted for the pool to go on the East side of Princes Parade and 32 on the West. The 81 people who voted for neither weren’t mentioned!

Councillor Dearden said it would be “low profile” building so people wouldn’t lose their views but the leisure centre on the PR material doesn’t look in the least bit low profile. Nor are town houses.

Several Cabinet members including Councillor Belcourt said they wouldn’t like to see the Imperial Golf Course developed. Not sure why the Golf Course is more important than Princes Parade but we will remember that!

Councillor Monk said that if the cost of the new leisure centre was still £12m then it wouldn’t be going ahead but wasn’t that what they voted for last time?

Thanks to all those who sat in the public gallery with us and/or wrote emails – we are convinced we have made the cabinet think a lot harder about this as a result and we haven’t lost the battle yet.

 

The officer’s recommendation is to accept Strategic Leisure’s proposal for a cheaper model for the new leisure centre at a cost of £8.8m and to build this on Prince’s Parade adjoining the new school along with 36 town houses. The two consultants disagree where on Prince’s Parade the pool should be built so this will be subject to public consultation. Note this is subject to capital receipts from the linked development sites (including the Seabrook School and Eversley Road sites) being allocated towards meeting the development costs.

So how have Shepway got the proposed cost of the new leisure centre down from £12m to £8.8m? The Strategic Leisure report makes lots of assumptions including good ground conditions and no contamination which we know are just not true.  Para 2.14 of the Strategic Leisure report itself refers to significant challenges including possible contamination and that the ground conditions.

The proposed cost excludes service connections (no water in the pool?) and the car park among other things.
The figure of £8.8m includes £1.125m added by GVA to cover these costs but will that be enough? Even assuming it is, the GVA report identifies a shortfall of £1.95m.

It is not clear whether the new proposed cost includes VAT. (The original £12m estimate excluded it.)

Shepway are quoted in the Herald dated 22 May 2014 as saying “Figures are indicative only” and “ At this stage it was never the intention to show every level of cost.”

Has anyone considered the running costs of the new facility?

The figures also do not include the protection to the Royal Military Canal. The design allows to raise the site next to the canal by a full metre, then to put 3 storey town houses on top, this will be a structure that will loom a full 40 feet above the canal.

There are no reports included from the Environment Agency, English Heritage  nor any ecologist report and yet GVA acknowledge there is a “flood context” and query “whether a public benefit case can be made for development in heritage terms.”

The GVA report (oddly just a draft for review) assumes 20% affordable housing but Shepway’s own policy CSD1 requires 30% affordable housing for development of 15 or more homes.

The views of the public (including those expressed as part of the recently abolished Hythe Neighbourhood Plan) have been totally ignored. Many local people believe that the best place for the new pool is on the existing site. When this was assessed it was claimed that it was too small but this assessment excluded the raised land and the area currently occupied by the beach huts. Interestingly, these are now included in the area allocated for housing.

The officers’ report refers to a medium risk that the project will be undeliverable in planning policy terms – not surprising given the Independent Inspector’s comments in 2004.

It is vital that we protect this unique piece of land and keep it as  open space for the benefit of local people and visitors to the area as well as for the wildlife.

 

Watch our video to understand why we think it’s important to Save Princes Parade:

(Note that since this video was recorded Shepway have announced that they are considering 36 houses on the site.)

 

 

The site is currently designated for open space and recreation – not housing – and Seabrook School already has planning permission for a new building on the Eversley Road playing fields site. If a new school is built on Prince’s Parade inevitably the existing school site and the playing field will become targets for housing.

We collected 555 signatures on our online petition against development and another 500 or so on paper. Councillor Tillson received this from us in July but the online petition is still open if you would like to sign it.

English Heritage have told Shepway that they are likely to object to development on the site. Read more here.

A separate study by Stategic Leisure looked at three possible sites for the swimming pool – the existing site and Nicholl’s Quarry as well as Prince’s Parade.The Shepway cabinet  accepted the recommendation that the preferred site for the new Hythe swimming pool should be Prince’s Parade – despite the fact that GVA had not yet concluded that the site was suitable. There was no public consultation regarding the site of the new pool/leisure centre and many local people feel that the new pool should be built on the existing site. We don’t think there has been sufficient explanation of why this is no longer being considered.

It is vital that we protect this unique piece of land and keep it as  open space for the benefit of local people and visitors to the area as well as for the wildlife.

The land at Princes Parade has been dredged, its been quarried, it’s been land filled, it successfully defended us against Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, it protects us and our Ancient Scheduled Monument from the ravages of the sea and provides a unique habitat for wildlife. It has a recorded planning history which makes it undevelopable for residential purposes. Definitely worth fighting for!

 

 

 

About Us

We are a non political group of local people who are determined to see that Prince’s Parade remains a public open space. We are opposed to any development of the …

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