Our aim is to provide information about the land at Prince’s Parade – its history and in particular the current threat to develop it with a new leisure centre to replace the Hythe pool, a new Seabrook primary school and housing.
We believe that Princes Parade is a valuable open space and should be left that way to protect the wildlife and to protect the Royal Military Canal which is a scheduled ancient monument. We have serious concerns about the financial viability of Shepway’s proposals to develop the site (and the other linked sites) and do not think it is appropriate to build a primary school on a potentially contaminated site.
At their meeting on 22 July 2015 , Shepway cabinet members voted to request the Head of Strategic Development Projects to provide a report, for consideration by cabinet in November, which will provide a full and up to date assessment of delivery options for community facilities in Hythe for the district. This will include the results of the contamination testing carried out on Princes Parade in June and also the recently commissioned land valuations for the various linked sites. These valuations will include building 36 houses on Princes Parade despite the recommendations by Shepway’s own consultants Lee Evans that housing be deleted from the proposals. Read the Lee Evans Heritage Assessment here. However, as revealed at Hythe Town Council on 16th July Shepway are now also looking at a replacement Hythe pool ( not leisure centre) on a number of sites in hythe: the existing pool site, South Road playing fields and the Green.
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.
The officer’s recommendation was 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Read English Heritage’s views 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.
Former management consultant Dr Geoff Burrell has produced an independent and very thorough analysis of the three sites and concluded that Nickoll’s Quarry is the best option. Here his report – well worth a read Swimming Pool Options.
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.)
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 2013 but the online petition is still open if you would like to sign it.
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!