We list below a summary and some videos of the key council meetings where decisions about Princes Parade have been made. However, Shepway’s cabinet also hold informal meetings which the public cannot attend and which are not minuted. More about this here.
Princes Parade Working Group 15th June 2017
We have been arguing with Shepway DC for some time that the minutes of these meetings should be in the public domain. So we were pleased to see that this meeting did appear on the public calendar of meetings and both the agenda and minutes were published. However, the public were not allowed to attend the meeting and proper notice that the public were to be excluded was not given because the chief executive claimed that it was not a decision making body. However the minutes are clear that thee members present at the meeting “agreed” several things . Were they not decisions?
The members were informed that the planning application would be submitted late June/early July 2017 and the group agreed to recommend to cabinet that a full business plan would be prepared for a cabinet meeting in the Autumn. This business plan includes items such as a business case for the leisure centre, land disposal, capital funding and a risk register.
Shepway have already spent £500k on preparing the planning application (not to mention the sots they incurred prior to that.) Surely they should have looked at the business plan BEFORE they spent all this money.
Shepway Council 26 April 2017
QUESTION from Councillor Mrs Mary Lawes to Councillor David Monk, Leader of Shepway District Council :
It is known that all or some of the Cabinet members have attended meetings about Princes Parade project, which the public were not allowed to attend. Can you please provide a full list of all meetings since 1 January 2016, where one or more Cabinet members were present and the Princes Parade project was discussed? This should include meetings of the Princes Parade advisor group, the Princes Parade working group and any informal Cabinet meeting. And where can I or the public find these minutes?
ANSWER: The dates of the Princes Parade Advisory Panel and Princes Parade Working Group meetings are set out below: Princes Parade Advisory Panel 11th February 2016 23rd March 2016 30th June 2016 16th August 2016 18th October 2016 6th March 2017 Princes Parade Working Group 15th November 2016 11th January 2017 Additional portfolio holder briefings have been given by officers to Cllr Godfrey, as chair of the WG, on a regular basis”. No records of these meetings are kept. Similarly there are no records of informal meetings of Cabinet members. It is not a formal meeting of the Council and therefore it is not necessary for agendas or minutes to be taken or to be published. The minutes that are available to Councillors and the public (Princes Parade Working Group) can be accessed via Modgov.
SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION: Were figures and costs discussed at the meetings of the Advisory Panel?
Shepway Council 22 February 2017
The Leader’s announcements included this “Cabinet had approved the submission of the Princes Parade scheme for planning permission, and all being well, a decision would be made on whether to proceed later in the year.” In answer to Councillor Laws’s question regarding doubts about Princes Parade proceeding the Leader replied ” In terms of Princes Parade, the costs were not known as yet. The council intended to replace Hythe Pool, and if the development was a way of doing that, then the council would seek to do this.”
Councillor Mrs Mary Lawes asked Councillor David Monk, Leader of Council. “Can you tell me how much it will cost to build the new leisure centre at Princes Parade? How many houses will be needed to be sold in order to ‘wash its face’, as quoted in the cabinet meeting on 7 February 2017?” ANSWER: At its meeting or 7th February Cabinet decided: “That, should planning permission be granted, then the full business case and financial appraisal should be considered by Cabinet prior to any building work commencing.” The questions will be addressed at that time. SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTION: How was the ‘wash its face’ statement made? ANSWER: The costs will not be known until it is clear exactly what is to be built.
You can read the full agenda and minutes here.
Shepway Cabinet 7 February 2017
Cabinet voted through the recommendations ie effectively to delegate the final decisions re the submission of the planning application to the Leader and an officer. They did at least add an amendment that says that if planning permission is granted then a detailed financial study/business case will have to come back to cabinet before any building takes place. But surely that should be the first step not the last one?
The Chief Executive said that he was expecting the planning decision to be made in the summer.
Councillors Hollingsbee and Peall sent their apologies. Councillor Love abstained presumably because he is against the diversion of the road. Thanks to Councillor Dearden who raised a lot of our queries including those relating to the very many risks of developing the site though he then went to vote for the recommendation anyway.
The officers claim there is no knotweed on the site. No mention was made of the harm the development will cause to the Royal Military Canal. The Chief Executive claimed that these sort of issues were matters for planning but surely if they turn out to be insurmountable obstacles to development then cabinet should consider them now before they spend even more of our money on this project.
The Leader confirmed that none of the cabinet members will be allowed to sit on the planning control committee.
You can read the agenda and minutes here.
Shepway Council 26 October 2016
On 24 February of this year , David Monk said in full council that there was no cost difference for the leisure centre on any of the proposed sites. Councillor Mary Lawes challenged him on this at the council meeting in March but did not receive a satisfactory answer and so asked the same question again. The answer to her supplementary question was that there were no costings to give.So how does Councillor Monk know there is no cost difference? You can read the full answer here.
And hear a recording of his answer here:
Shepway Cabinet 13 April 2016
Shepway tried to exclude the public from the Princes parade item at this meeting but in the end the third party (Hythe Sailing Club) whose identity they were trying to protect agreed they could reveal their identity . Shepway should have given the public 28 days’ notice that we were to be excluded from the meeting but failed to do so. When this was pointed out to them they got around it by posting a notice in an obscure part of their website whereby the chair of the Resource Scrutiny Committee agreed that they could hold the meeting in private. However this has denied us the right to make representations as to why the meting should have been held in public.
As we had less than a day’s notice that we could attend the meeting after all we didn’t have enough time to read the reports and pass all our questions to cabinet members prior to their discussion.
Nevertheless, Councillor Dearden valiantly tried to pose some questions on our behalf including how these new proposals (for 150 houses) fitted in with the resolution passed on 28 May 2014 that the maximum number of houses would be 36. Andy Jarrett managed not to answer this question so we have asked him again by email.
The reports presented to cabinet which you can find here
include reference to the sailing club (incorrectly referred to at the meeting as a yacht club) and the chief executive explained that this was the third party who had previously not wanted their name revealed but that they had now given Shepway to reveal their identity.
Councillor Dearden asked the Chief Executive to confirm that there was no other third party involved. The Chief Exec gave a very carefully worded denial that there had been negotiations with any other third party. We did film the meeting so worth watching this bit when the video is available on our website.
Other than that there wasn’t much debate of note – the councillors were all keen to say that they thought it was a great opportunity for Hythe etc. They all, including Councillor Dearden, voted for the following recommendations:
RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. To receive and note report C/16/98. 2. That the uses and extent of uses, as set out in Section 3 of the report, be used as the as the basis for the preparation of an application for planning permission for the Princes Parade site. 3. That a further report, setting out the detail and nature of the planning application be presented to Cabinet prior to the submission of the application. 4. To note that officers are continuing investigations to establish facts and acquire knowledge to enable conclusions to be drawn and decisions to be made and that the Council intends to publish all relevant documentation by the end of November 2016 at the latest.
It’s not clear if the cabinet members realised that the kinked blue line (not included in the key for the plan shown below) is in fact the road diverted around the back of the houses. But is clear that all the area coloured brown will be housing. Shepway’s report (but not the resolution) says there will be stakeholder consultation but doesn’t specify who the stakeholders might be. However the risk assessment says there is a medium risk that there will be technical difficulties or stakeholder discussions that mean the preferred option cannot be pursued.
The video of the meeting – pay attention at 14.34 mins:
Shepway Resource Scrutiny Committee 6 April 2016
Some time after the agenda was published on the Shepway website an amendment was posted saying that the public would be excluded from the Princes Parade update. We challenged that and we told “There are commercially sensitive matters, involving a third party, to be considered by the Resources Scrutiny Committee that were not known at the time of publishing the original agenda.”. We made a further challenge ie that
Para 9 Schedule 12 A Local Government Act 1972 states that “Information is not exempt information if it relates to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992”.
but were told this doesn’t apply because ” Both the Resources Scrutiny Committee meeting tomorrow and the Cabinet meeting on 13 April will not be acting as the “local planning authority” and therefore there will be no decision relating to the granting of planning permission. Should there be a decision to submit a planning application for the redevelopment of Princes Parade in the future, any such application will be considered at a public meeting.”
We are not convinced.
At the meeting the chief executive said the reason for the secrecy was that Shepway’s partner had not agreed that it’s identity could be revealed . Committee members voted that the meeting should be held in private and so those in the public gallery had to leave. Who is this partner and how were they appointed?
Shepway Council Meeting 16 March 2016
Councillor Laws challenged David Monk on his claim that there was no cost difference for the leisure centre on any of the sites. You can read his reply here (question 7):
Shepway Council Meeting 24 February 2016
Councillor Monk announced that because of difficulties with the Covenant SDC are dropping The Green and going ahead with PP instead for the pool.
Although the decision to abandon the plans to build the leisure centre on The Green was made in secret at the earlier cabinet meeting, at the cabinet meting on 13th April 2016 Councillor Dearden revealed that the reason was that Hythe Town Council had requested an indemnity against anyone challenging the covenant at the Lands Tribunal and Shepway’s cabinet had considered that too risky. (But building the leisure centre on PP isn’t risky??)
In answering a question from the opposition Cllr Monk said there is no cost difference between any of the sites i.e The Green, NQ and PP! When challenged by email he declined to make further comment on the costs.
He also claimed that PP could deliver the new leisure centre 3 years ahead of Nickoll’s Quarry but when asked to share the timeline for PP Susan Priest just said “We will be reporting on Princes Parade in due course to Cabinet. In the meantime we are progressing work in line with decisions of Council already made.”
Hythe Town Council Extraordinary Meeting 18 January 2016
At which it was decided to make part of The Green available to Shepway for the new leisure centre subject to certain conditions:
Shepway Full Council Meeting 13 January 2016
QUESTION by Councillor Carol Sacre of Councillor David Monk, Leader of the Council “Whilst I appreciate the need for a new swimming pool in Hythe, I feel that the proposal to site it on the Green does not take into account the needs of the people of New Romney, Dymchurch and Lydd. The Marsh communities, including the villages, have long since been deprived of proper sport and leisure facilities, in particular a swimming pool. Surely the Nickolls Quarry site would be in a far better position to serve them, particularly as the developer, Martello Lakes, has already committed land and finance?”
ANSWER “The proposed Recreation Centre is intended to help meet the leisure needs of the communities across Shepway including Hythe and Romney Marsh. The Nickolls Quarry site is one of a number of sites that were recently assessed as part of an options appraisal reported to Cabinet in November 2015. It is accepted that there are merits in the Nickolls Quarry option but unfortunately the site is not available for development until at least 2020 and it may well be longer. Its availability is dependent on matters beyond the Council’s control including the development programme of that site as a whole. In order to maintain a swimming pool facility in Hythe for the community it is considered important to construct one ahead of that timescale”
Hythe Town Council Meeting 19th November 2015
The council was debating Paul Peacock’s motion not to release The Green for the new leisure centre. It was defeated 10 to 6 with most councillors claiming this would give them a chance to debate to options further. But Shepway have only given them a chance to opt for The Green by 31 Jan or the preferred site reverts to Princes Parade. You can watch the meeting here:
Shepway Cabinet Meeting 4th November
Cabinet voted for the recommendations ie to invite HTC to make The Green available and subject to that agreement to prepare a planning application for The Green. Also to ask KCC for a decision re the school. And taking account of that to prepare a planning application for Princes Parade. Councillor Collier asked how this fitted in with the Local Plan but they ignored his question! Lots of issues not covered including the risks of developing Princes Parade. They reckon there are ways of overcoming the covenant on The Green.
The Resources Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation to look at NQ hardly got a mention.Susan Carey tried to justify developing PP on the grounds that it will be decontaminated (in fact that would be outrageously expensive and so it will just be capped as Shepway have already conceded).Jeremy Chambers confirmed that the resolution passed in May 14 re the covenant on PP still stands even though it wasn’t mentioned in the officer’s report. It was notable that there is discussion about the pool being for the people of Hythe and/or Folkestone but not a mention of the people on the Marsh who really need a pool.
Another part of the meeting worth pointing out is the answer Councillor Collier got about why the site is valued more with low density housing than with high density ie they would be selling off more of the land for the low density housing. Non of the documents so far published give any indication how much of Princes Parade they intend to develop and how much will be left as open space.
You can watch the video here:
You can read the minutes here but note that they omit much of what was said:
Rather strangely a lot of the background reports were published ahead of the meeting but on Shepway’s Princes Parade website rather than on the main Shepway site
This includes the crucial contamination report and the Lee Evans report which covers heritage/planning issues.
Resource Scrutiny Committee 28 October 2015
(from the official minutes)
The Committee received a presentation from the Head of Strategic Development projects based on Cabinet report C/15/38 which had been published and made available to the Committee on 27 October 2015.
Dr Geoff Burrell was invited to address the Committee and made the following observations:
- Hythe Green could be the best location although it had major problems
- The Princes Parade site was not the best alternative location because of a number of factors including concerns over best value; local plan issues; doubts as to whether the site was classified as a brownfield location
- The Nickolls Quarry site provided better solutions including amalgamating with a community centre, good open space, waterside location, public transport, location on the west of Hythe rather than the east.
Committee members raised the following points;
- Whether Hythe Town Council would release such a large piece of land
- The cost of removing contamination from the Princes Parade site
- Concerns as to whether banks would make mortgages available on properties built on contaminated land
- Concerns as to why the original planning permission for Nickolls Quarry including the s106 agreement for the building of a replacement swimming pool was being renegotiated
- Reflections that people to the east of Hythe already had a leisure centre in Folkestone whereas those to the west did not – which pointed to a preference for a new facility to be located on the Nickolls Quarry site rather than Princes Parade
- A wish to know the results of public consultation (officers undertook to provide this outside of the meeting)
- Noting that any decision to relocate the school on the Princes Parade site would be taken by Kent County having regard to all the relevant factors
RESOLVED: That Cabinet be advised that the Committee’s preferred site for a new swimming pool with leisure centre facilities be the Nickolls Quarry.
(It wasn’t minuted but Andy Jarrett did concede that NQ isn’t significantly further from the centre of Hythe than is PP).
Shepway Cabinet Meeting 22nd July 2015
There was a disappointing lack of discussion about Princes Parade at lthe meeting. Malcolm Dearden pointed out that there are other potential sites including the existing Hythe pool site and Martello Lakes (ie Nickoll’s Quarry) and also reminded the meeting that it was agreed that whatever land on PP is not developed will be protected by a restrictive covenant. Jeremy Chambers tried to say the covenant wasn’t definite – just a proposal. Alan Ewart James said that the Church of England have said that the Seabrook Church Hall site can also be included in the project as they could use community facilities in the new school building. (This was the plan when the school was planned for Eversley Road). And that was that – cabinet voted to note the report d to request an update in November so yet more money will be spent on valuation work etc for the PP project .
Hythe Town Council Meeting 16th July 2015
There was a presentation from two Shepway officers. Shepway have been approached by two developers interested in building the new pool in exchange for a land swap for housing. One proposal puts the new pool on the existing site in front of the current pool the other puts the pool on the playing fields opposite the pool. Both proposals mean the old pool can stay open while the new one is built. Obviously potential problems with both ideas but encouraging that they are looking at these options. Hythe councillors voted to ask Shepway to look into these proposals as well as the possibility of putting the pool on the Green.
Hythe Town Council Meeting 3 July 2014
Jeremy Chambers gave a presentation to the councillors during which he admitted that the financial projections are still “high level” and answered some of their questions. The council then voted (7 for, 4 abstentions) to support the proposal for the development to be at the east end of Prince’s Parade. HTC only has a consultative role.
Shepway Cabinet Meeting 28 May 2014
On 28th May 2014 the Shepway Cabinet voted unanimously to accept the officer’s recommendation 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 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.
- To receive and note report C/14/01.
- To endorse the revised facility model for a new swimming pool on Princes Parade, as detailed in the report from Strategic Leisure.
- To endorse and adopt the principles contained in the feasibility analysis report from GVA.
- Subject to the capital receipts, from the linked development sites, being allocated, and practicably available, towards meeting the development costs of the project, the Council confirms, in its capacity as landowner, the following:-
- a) The ARC enhanced model, detailed in the report from Strategic Leisure, is adopted as the Council’s preferred model;
- b) That a maximum of 36 town homes will be included in the scheme;
- c) That the proposed new school and pool sites are adjoined in order to minimise infrastructure costs;
- d) That, at the appropriate time, a legally binding covenant be drawn up to protect the proposed parkland and open space from any future development proposals not directly related to the site’s leisure and educational objectives.
- That, given the different views of Strategic Leisure and GVA on the most suitable location within the site for the proposed new pool and school, the local community is asked for views on whether the pool and school should be at the western end (adjoining the golf course) or eastern end (adjoining the existing play area) of Princes Parade.
- To authorise the Corporate Director Central Services to continue with the project.
- That the Corporate Director Central Services provides a further report to Cabinet at the next appropriate stage in the project.
You can watch the whole of the meeting on here:
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 said the cost calculations were just “high level” at this stage but agreed to ask the consultants for more detail – surely he should have done that before. He said he would post them on their website www.princesparade.co.uk but this has not yet been done.
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?
Shepway Cabinet Meeting 23 July 2013
The cabinet voted to allow the officers to consider a revised plan.
The revised plan now involves looking at all the sites affected by the proposals as well as identifying the necessary funding. Lets hope they see sense before too much more public money is wasted on this. They have still not yet done a financial viability study on the site. We think this is one of the first things they should have looked at.
Hythe Town Council Extraordinary Meeting 28/11/12
The majority of those councillors who spoke were in favour of the new swimming pool being built on the site of the existing site not Prince’s Parade. Several of them questioned the high cost of the proposed new lesiure facility and pointed out that the suggested cost of £12m was likely to be an underestimate as it excludes some costs such as ground works.
Two motions were passed – both asking that Shepway DC takes the Hythe Neighbourhood Plan into consideration when planning a site for the new pool and in the next stages of the Prince’s Parade feasibility study.
Shepway Cabinet Meeting 19/12/12
Unfortunately Shepway operates a cabinet system which means that the majority of Shepway councillors were not included in this meeting.
Firstly there was presentation from Strategic Leisure who carried out the swimming pool feasibility study. They pointed out that Sport England would like the pool to be in New Romney as that is the area of greatest perceived need but because the s106 money from the Nickoll’s Quarry development (which will be used to part fund the pool) must be spent in Hythe , the consultants were briefed to look only in a 2.5 mile radius of the existing pool.
The consultants recommended Prince’s Parade as the preferred site for the pool but did concede that it does present challenges in terms of development and planning and that the suggested £12m cost does not include certain costs including VAT.
There was some discussion as to whether the existing site could be considered for the new pool. The consultant said that the site is too small as the new pool would have to be of a sufficient size to meet future need and must also meet certain standards and guidelines. Councillor Dearden proposed an amendment that the existing site be kept under consideration but Councillor Keren Belcourt (the only other Hythe councillor at the meeting) would not second the amendment. Alistair Stewart (chief executive) said that Prince’s Parade would be the preferred site but not necessarily the definitive site and that acccepting the recommendation did not mean that the other sites would be ruled out completely.
However it should be noted that the recommendation that was actually voted on was to “support and endorse the recommendations contained in the feasibility study prepared by Strategic Leisure dated August 2012.” Recommendation no 2 in that report states “The recommended site for the development of the new swimming pool is Princes Parade.” ie no mention of any other site.
Councillor Dearden did mention the role that the Hythe Neighbourhood Plan might play in he siting of the pool but after Chris Lewis (head of planning) said that there were as yet no policies in the Plan regarding the pool , he didn’t try to make an amendment on this subject.
And so the cabinet accepted the recommendation. Despite the comments made at the Hythe meeting on 28 November, both Hythe councillors present effectively voted to put the new pool on Prince’s Parade.
There was then a presentation by Steve Walker from Allies and Morrision who are one of the firms working on the Prince’s Parade feasibily study. He pointed out that this is a land owner study not a masterplan nor a planning application. It is now at the end of the baseline stage. The next stage will be to look at the options and their implications. He did say that doing nothing would be one of the options. There will be more public consultation. The public consultation that has been carried out so far was not a statutory requirement but has been done because it is good practice.
Disappointingly the cabinet members asked very few questions. The public opposition to the development of the site was mentioned as was flooding and contamination but there was very little if any mention of the importance of the site as an open space and for wildlife nor the fact that it is still designated as open space and recreation not housing . There was no concern at all from the cabinet members that yet more public money is being spent on this study when previous studies have already demonstrated the problems with the site.
As far as flooding goes, the consultants seemed fairly confident that if Shepway presented more detailed local information to the Environment Agency, the Agency would downgrade their assessment of the site from Zone 3 . It maybe that more sensitive developments eg housing would need to put on the the less risky areas of the site.
Similarly , the contamination on the site could be dealt with in situ but obviously this could be expensive.
And so the cabinet accepted the recommendation that the study be continued.