Planning & Shepway’s Local Plan

Up until now Shepway DC have been looking at Princes Parade as the land owners ie not as planners. However the planning policy officers have now got involved (supposedly on an arms length basis) and Princes Parade has been allocated as a development site in the draft Local Plan – Preferred Options.  Ultimately any planning decision will be made by Shepway District Council despite the fact that Shepway will be the applicant. We are expecting Shepway to submit a planning application to themselves in August 2017.

General Background

All planning has to be consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which you can view here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework–2

Although the NPPF does have a presumption in favour of sustainable development (sustainable meaning economic, social as well as environmental) it does have some protection for open spaces and ancient monuments.

The Core Strategy  which is the overall strategy for development in Shepway over the next 25 -30 years has now been agreed. This will form the basis of the Local Plan.

http://www.shepway.gov.uk/content/view/201676/4372/

(However Shepway District Council are currently working on a revised Core Strategy which is likely to identify a much higher number for the housing need.)

The next stage of the local plan process is the allocation of sites for development.

Site allocations can alternatively be made in neighbourhood plans. Sadly Hythe Town council voted not to continue with our neighbourhood plan – thus taking away the chance for the people of Hythe not only to comment on the future of Princes Parade but also on the future of the whole town. A very shortsighted decision.

The Local Plan is supposed to be a democratic process so watch out for the public consultations ( likely to be in the autumn of 2017) and make sure you take part.

Local Plan Consultations

Following on from the Core Strategy which was agreed in 2013 , Shepway  carried out a consultation  on the next stage of the Local Plan – the Issues and Options in January 2015. You can read the responses (which clearly show the opposition to development on Princes Parade) here:

http://shepway-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/pplp/pplpio?pointId=s1408198378954#section-s1408198378954

The consultation  re the next stage of the Local Plan which deals with site allocations is took place in Nov 2016 . The consultation documents showed an allocation of 150 houses and a leisure centre for Princes Parade and that the Imperial Golf Course was considered unsuitable for development. There were a lot of objections to the development of Princes Parade from members of the public , Historic England and Kent County Council but nevertheless Princes Parade was still in the draft Plan as presented to Cabinet in July 2017. More information here.

WHAT DID THE ISSUES AND OPTIONS DOCUMENT SAY ABOUT PRINCES PARADE?

The consultation didn’t name any specific sites other than Princes Parade at this stage. The approach Shepway has taken has been to look at different policy options. Once they have come up with a set of planning policies they will be able to use these to assess the various development sites that have been identified or submitted and hence allocated the required number of new homes across the district. There will then be another stage of consultation in March 2016 regarding these site allocations.

The Issues & Options document is 132 pages long. It would be great if you could read  the whole document since this affects the whole of Shepway but if your time is limited then please look at Policy C9 in Section 12 Community which is about Princes Parade.

The two main options for this policy were for a school, leisure centre, park and maybe houses to be built on Princes Parade or for these to be built on other unnamed site(s)in Hythe. (Note the school is no longer under consideration.)

There was a third “and/or” policy option which is to allow low key development on Princes Parade for leisure purposes. This reflects the current policy TM8 which would perhaps allow a new canoe club but existing policy TM8 only covers the eastern end of the site. If you decide to choose the option to allow low key development on Princes Parade please be careful to restrict this to the eastern end as currently covered by TM8.

 REASONS WE SUGGESTED FOR SUPPORTING OPTION 2 FOR QUESTION 19

Open space

This is a unique piece of open land between the Royal Military Canal and the seafront and needs to be left undeveloped. It has already been acknowledged that Seabrook has a deficiency of open space and building on Princes Parade will make this considerably worse.
Any development on the site would destroy the vistas which were so highly valued by the Inspector in her 2004 report. As she said “To my mind the prospect eastwards along Princes Parade from the vicinity of the Hythe Imperial Hotel is one of the finest vistas in the District.”
You can read the rest of her report here. (pages 86-90)

Heritage

The development will dominate the Royal Military Canal and important historic views between the canal and the seafront will be lost forever.
English Heritage have serious concerns about the proposals. You can read their thoughts here.

Deliverability

Shepway’s proposals (as landowner) for a new school and leisure centre on Princes Parade are not deliverable. The site is extremely difficult and expensive to develop and Shepway have not proven that the project is financially or otherwise viable given the huge risks involved nor have they fully identified the funding for this.
Exceptional costs of developing the site included dealing with the contamination, extensive piling and providing services and infrastructure.
The project depends on the linked sites of Eversley Road, the existing Hythe pool site and the existing Seabrook primary School site also being developed and hence on co operation with KCC and the Church of England which is not yet certain.

Alternative site for the School

There is an alternative site for the new school at Eversley Road. Planning permission for a new school on this site was granted in 2011. Parents are unlikely to be happy to send their children to a school built on a former landfill site and the Princes Parade site is too exposed to the elements to be a suitable site for a primary school.

Wrong Site for the New Pool/Leisure Centre

Princes Parade is too close to the existing Folkestone Leisure Centre, it is not on a bus route and is even further than the existing Hythe pool from Romney Marsh which is where Sport England has identified the greatest need for a new pool.

Alternative sites for the Pool

There is an alternative, cheaper option for the leisure centre on Nickoll’s Quarry which would better serve the identified need for a swimming pool on Romney Marsh and which is on a bus route linking Folkestone, Hythe & Romney Marsh. A site for the new leisure centre has already been identified at Nickoll’s Quarry site and under the s106 agreement Shepway DC would acquire this land for free. This land would be provided fully remediated and with infrastructure already provided.

Flooding

The site is elevated above the flood zone level but there is still a risk of wave overtopping – particularly if at some point in the future the Environment Agency are unable to obtain the funds necessary for the annual beach protection works.

Low Profile Buildings

Shepway have promised low profile buildings but given the already elevated nature of the site and the probable need to build three storey buildings because of the flood risk, in practice it will not be possible to keep the buildings “low profile” and they will dominate the seafront and the canal.