Yesterday (23rd Feb 2021) F&HDC announced they had appointed BAM Construction to deliver the new leisure centre on Princes Parade. BAM and FHDC have entered a pre-contact services agreement for the surveys, design, investigations and coordination of services only. There is no building work included in this pre-contact services agreement as far as we can make out.
BAM have secured the two stage tender. The first stage, we assume, is a fixed price of £2.5 million for the pre-contract services agreement; the second stage is for the contract works, that is all the building work. By winning the tender BAM Construction can exclusively negotiate the second stage. This is a standard procurement process for high risk construction which hold great uncertainty.
Many people have asked if procurement procedures were followed correctly but we can only confirm they were followed if we were given a copy of the tender/contract documents, which is very unlikely to happen.
Clearly we are entering last chance saloon but that chance is 50/50 because Princes Parade has always been protected by the prohibitive costs of dealing with the contamination and these costs are completely unknown.
These investigations by BAM will determine the exact composition of the ground, the nature and extent of the contaminated material contained within the ground and the costs of remediating the ground. It is likely that these costs will be very high. If the costs prove to be prohibitively high the project will be abandoned, just as all other development proposals on the site have been abandoned.
If the project is abandoned the £2.5 million of local people’s money committed on the pre-contract services agreement will have been wasted.
If the costs to remediate the site are, for example, 25% higher than anticipated and the overall project cost approaches £30 million it will be a political decision whether or not a £30 million swimming pool offers good value to the people of the district when there is an alternative available site at Martello Lakes for a princely sum of £1.
Martello Lakes: “only chance” for new Hythe swimming pool
“…the proposal to re-route Princes Parade to the north is misconceived, introduces unnecessary costs and undermines the character of the site”
“Although it has sometimes been used insensitively in the past its open character is valuable. The views from the community around Seabrook Road to the beach and sea and back the other way are valuable as is the view down to the site from the higher parts of Seabrook We note the local opposition to this scheme and the concerns of Historic England.”
“…an intrusive roadway close to the scheduled ancient monument”
“The character of this site is of a vibrant sea-front and a quiet canal area”
At F&HDC’s next full council meeting on Wednesday 24th February Cllr Tim Prater plans to table an amendment to the Capital Spending Programme seeking to delete the allocated budget for Princes Parade as the site for a new leisure centre/swimming pool in order to allow further investigation of the Martello Lakes option.
An independent report commissioned by Shepway District Council in 2016 and the Environment Agency’s assessment of the drainage/run-off plans as “just about viable” suggest that the plan is so fundamentally flawed, so logistically and financially uncertain that, if pursued, Hythe may never gets its much-needed new pool.
The campaign to Save Princes Parade:
The story so far… a very brief summary
The open space that lies between the Royal Military Canal and the seafront at Princes Parade is earmarked for development by the local council with plans that include a housing estate of 150 three- and four-storey seafront homes, a five-storey hotel, commercial premises and a leisure centre.
It had been clear since 2011 that Shepway District Council (now renamed as Folkestone & Hythe District Council) was determined to build on the land and when the Council submitted its planning application in 2017, The Save Princes Parade campaign which had been a hub for opposition to any development on Princes Parade was established as a formal group objecting to the F&HDC planning application and challenging its plans to develop Princes Parade.
In July 2019 formal consent of planning permission for the Princes Parade development was granted and the Save Princes Parade campaign prepared to mount a legal challenge to the decision through a Judicial Review. The hearing in the High Court was eventually held in March 2020 and in June we were notified that the claim was unsuccessful.
In December 2020 our legal challenge was effectively ended when we were denied permission to appeal the decision.
However the campaign continues. The issues we have been highlighting throughout our campaign haven’t gone away and F&HDC still faces serious problems delivering its proposals.