Saturday 22 January 2022

The Public Inquiry into the Stopping Up of Princes Parade

Disappointingly, we have been notified that the Secretary of State has approved the application made by FHDC to Stop Up Princes Parade.

A Public Inquiry was held in autumn 2021 and an Inspector heard evidence for five days. Save Princes Parade was formally represented and gave evidence against the Stopping Up along with Hythe Town Council, the Ward Councillors for Hythe and the KCC Councillor in whose Ward Princes Parade sits. There were also many other individuals and local residents who gave evidence against the Stopping Up.

Despite overwhelming local opposition the Inspector decided to recommend to the Secretary of State that the Stopping Up Order should be approved and we will lose one of the most iconic historical features of Hythe.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council very aggressively applied for a cost order to be made against the Chair and the Membership Secretary of the Save Prince Parade committee. FHDC did this because Save Princes Parade is an unincorporated body and it is difficult to recover costs from an unincorporated body. This personal costs application was an extremely aggressive action.

The Inspector recommended the cost application against the Chair and Membership Secretary should not be made but he recommended a cost application against Save Princes Parade regardless of the likelihood of recovery by FHDC.

Like many similar legal issues this cost application by FHDC is unlikely to be resolved quickly and it is clear that our elected Council prefers to spend local people’s money pursuing local community groups through the Courts rather than maintaining the historical and environmental features in Hythe.

At the moment it is completely unknown what the amount of the cost application will be.

We will update you with further developments as they happen.

Monday 20 December 2021

Health risks exposed – and may be caused – by site inspection at Princes Parade!

Dr Geoff Burrell highlights serious health risks to the community if the development goes ahead!

Contained within the LBHGEO Land Contamination Assessment (click here to download a copy), Dr Geoff Burrell has identified serious health and safety issues created by the intrusive site investigation works at the proposed development site at Princes Parade earlier this year.

Sunday 19 December 2021

Land Contamination Assessment

Land Contamination Assessment December 2021Following a Preliminary Risk Assessment (PRA) on 9 March 2021 which identified “potentially unacceptable land contamination risks associated with the site” we saw the council’s contractors, BAM, carry out physical site investigation works involving drilling, digging and scraping the land. The findings were set out in the IDOM Merebrook Factual Report (FR22281-21-195), published in May 2021. This technical document formed the basis of the new Land Contamination Assessment (LBH4635lca) by LBHGEO. This report is by no means easy reading in any sense but sets out more clearly the risks of developing this former landfill site.

In its risk evaluation LBHGEO point out that “Given the nature of the site it is not possible to use the location of any identified contamination as being representative of anything other than the whole landfill”. The report concludes: “Given the scale of the site there are and will remain significant uncertainties regarding the potential content of the landfill.”

Day of Action

Save Kent's Green Spaces

Save Princes Parade and Wild About Princes Parade were among those demonstrating against the planned development of Princes Parade as part the Save Kent’s Green Spaces “Day of Action” on Sunday 28 November, which saw campaigners from all over the county turn out in defence of open space and wildlife in the Garden of England.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry into the stopping up of the road and diversion order for Princes Parade concluded on Thursday 4th November 2021 when both sides gave their closing statements.

A site visit was made by the Inspector on the previous afternoon (Wednesday 4 November).

The closing statements in pdf format can be downloaded using these links:

The video recording of Day 6 (closing statements) held at the Civic Centre can be viewed on this webcast:

A recording of each of the five days of the Public Inquiry held at the Leas Cliff Hall can be viewed on the Council’s YouTube channel:

See the official F&HDC web page for more information on the Inquiry.

The Public Objections to the S247 Application received by the Casework Team during the period of statutory consultation (May 10 2018 to June 7 2018) can be found on this page on the F&HDC website.

More planning applications regarding Princes Parade!

There are three additional planning applications in the system including one for a water drainage system which will drain into the sea via outfalls.

Please take the time to read them and submit your comments.

The application references are:

  • 21/1997/FH
    Storm water outfall drainage pipes
  • 21/1989/FH
    Electricity Substation
  • 21/1986/FH/NMA
    Non material amendment to planning permission Y17/1042/SH dated 18/07/2019. Amendments to include changes to ground floor entrance and cafe area[..]

Type those reference numbers into the quick search form here on the council website here…

Thanks to Shepway Green Party for the information.

Open Stage

We had a hugely successful Open Stage event at the Tower Theatre, raising over £2,000 towards our legal fees fighting against the stopping up and redirection of Princes Parade. We send our heartfelt thanks to Jack Pound and Friends, Shane Record and all those who contributed to the auction and raffle and put their hands into their pockets to create such a memorable evening.


The Save Prince’s Parade 2022 Calendar is now available!

Save Princes Parade Calendar 2022
The Save Princes Parade Calendar 2022

We had so many wonderful photos submitted for our 2022 calendar we’ve had to make room for more than one per month!

The calendars are now available for purchase at £10 each… call Chris Farrell on 01303 264323 or email photos@saveprincesparade.org.

All proceeds will go towards the Save Princes Parade campaign which is at present focused on stopping the “Stopping Up” and diversion of Princes Parade at the Public Inquiry to be held on 19 October 2021.

A special prize will be awarded for the best photograph submitted by a young person under 16 years of age.

An exhibition of the winning photographs, and prize giving, will take place at The Fountain Public House, Seabrook on a date to be confirmed.

For more information contact Chris on 01303 264323.

The Campaign

The Campaign

Initially formed in 2011, the Save Princes Parade campaign group was formally established in 2017 to oppose the Council’s latest attempt to develop the site.

Since then, the Council have refused to accept a petition of over 6,500 names and has brushed aside many individual emails and letters objecting to the plans. They have also ignored more than 600 formal written objections from residents submitted at the consultation stage of the planning process.

A timeline of significant events can be found here.

The district elections of May 2019 ensured that nearly half our Councillors are now opposed to the development. Shortly after this election, the Full Council voted to abandon the Princes Parade scheme. Although this decision was overridden by the Cabinet, opposition councillors continue to work hard within the District Council to prevent this development.

In a hugely powerful demonstration of support for the cause, residents and SPP members organised fund-raising events and generously donated nearly £50,000 to pay the costs of our attempt to overturn the Council’s grant of planning permission for Princes Parade through a Judicial Review.

The campaign continues…

Unfortunately, our legal challenge was unsuccessful. The Judicial Review, however, was but one of many hurdles for the District Council to overcome and they still have some extraordinarily difficult problems ahead. For example, F&HDC still needs to take account of the many objections to, and logistical problems of, ‘stopping up’ the road. There are also extensive environmental, drainage and ecological issues to be addressed as well as justifying the financial viability, yet to be ascertained, of building on this site. Despite F&HDC’s previous claims, Princes Parade is certainly not the cheapest and quickest means of providing a new swimming pool for Hythe. There is an ideal alternative location for the leisure centre available to the Council for £1 at Martello Lakes on the west side of Hythe which would better serve the residents of Romney Marsh where there is a real need for a swimming pool.

Currently we are working on promoting Martello Lakes as the only guaranteed deliverable solution to the challenge of providing Hythe with its a much-needed new pool. We are also investigating the ‘conditions’ imposed when the Princes Parade planning permission was granted and will be ensuring they are adhered to if, or when, development begins. We are also exploring the options we can pursue to prevent the ‘stopping up of the road’ and pressing for a realistic examination of the costs of development.

How to help…

There will be opportunities to object to aspects of the scheme in the future and we will flag these up as and when they arise. Meanwhile it’s always worth writing or emailing councillors to make your views known and we will keep you informed of any formal opportunities for you to object.

The Background

The Background

For many years Folkestone Hythe & District Council (formerly Shepway DC) have been working on a project to build a leisure centre and “enabling” housing (150 new homes) on land the council owns on Princes Parade in Hythe. This project is very unpopular with local people – not just because of the loss of our unique open space and the impact on the wildlife that lives there but also because of the impact on the Royal Military Canal (which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument); the contamination risk because the site was once used as a landfill site; the flood risk and just as important, the financial risk that this project could pose to the council. There is an alternative site for the leisure centre at the Nickoll’s Quarry/Martello Lakes development.

A planning application was  submitted in September 2017 and approved – subject to the Environment Agency  withdrawing its objection relating to surface water drainage – by the planning committee on 16th August 2018 5 for;4 against and one abstention. Unfortunately in a letter dated 15.1.19 the Environment Agency say that they are satisfied that the secondary scheme now presented by the council (ie into the canal) represents a “just about viable” alternative to a direct discharge into the sea. In a letter dated 17.1.19 the EA confirmed that they are withdrawing their objection.

We asked the Secretary of State to call in the application  but he has declined on the grounds that it is of local (ie not national) importance and so should be determined locally. We are looking to see if we have grounds for a judicial review.

The council’s cabinet approved the business plan for the project on Feb13th . The public were excluded from part of this meeting (we believe unlawfully) and we were not allowed access to the papers for the meeting.

The planners have just finished a consultation on the new surface water drainage system and we expect that they will soon issue the planning permission. At which point we will have 6 weeks to request a judicial review of the decision to approve the planning permission. The diversion of the road will need to be approved before the development can go ahead – this may need a public inquiry.

At the cabinet meeting on Feb 13th it was agreed to delegate management of the project mainly to an officer which means there will be even less public scrutiny of this than there has been so far. From the papers we have been able to see the council believe that the costs of the project will be £29m and that they will have enough capital receipts to cover this. We believe that the costs have been seriously underestimated and the proceeds from land sales overestimated so the council could be left with a multi million pound loss. The council’s own consultants admit this is a risky project. Councillor Monk states that the project is financially viable but the truth is the council is not yet in a position to be sure of that. Even if the project was financially viable, it will require a considerable amount of up front funding. It seems that the council are proposing to cover that by means of internal borrowing.

At a meeting of full council on 26th June 2019 a motion was passed to withdraw the planning application and to start work on a planning application for the leisure centre at Martello Lakes. However the Monitoring Officer claims this decision is not binding on cabinet. We wait to see how Davis Monk the Leader of the council will respond to this.

Scroll down past the aerial picture for more information.

You can read the full resolution  re the planning decision here.

The planning officers recommended that planning permission is granted you can read their reports here committee report  and here Supplement Information

You can watch the video of the meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Vr5uWOlDw&feature=youtu.be

The summary of the planning application is: Hybrid planning application for the development of land at Princes Parade. An application for outline planning permission (with all matters reserved) for up to 150 residential dwellings (Use Class C3), up to 1,270sqm of commercial uses including hotel use (Use Class C1), retail uses (Use Class A1) and / or restaurant/cafe uses (Use Class A3); hard and soft landscaped open spaces, including children’s play facilities, surface parking for vehicles and bicycles, alterations to existing vehicular and pedestrian access and highway layout within and around the site, site levelling and groundworks, and all necessary supporting infrastructure and services. Full application comprising a 2,961sqm leisure centre (Use Class D2), including associated parking, open spaces and children’s play facility.

Apart from the many harms that will be caused by this development – harm to the setting of the Royal Military Canal (which is a scheduled ancient monument; loss of open space; loss of the wonderful vistas and open character of the site; loss of wildlife habitat and the loss of tranquility along the canal, one of our biggest concerns is that the project is not financially viable . The council do not seem to have an appreciation of the challenges of developing the site nor the risks involved.

There is another site for the new leisure centre at Nickolls Quarry (now Martello Lakes) so there is no justification for causing all this harm nor for the council to embark on such a risky project.

We are very concerned that so much of the application is outline only and that the applicant is trying to leave many of the details (including design and dealing with the contamination) to be decided as reserved matters or conditions. In other words, planning permission could be granted with all these details undecided ie effectively giving the developer who buys the housing land a blank cheque.

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 on a contaminated site.

Is this what you want Princes Parade to look like?

The original idea for a leisure centre to replace the existing swimming pool came about as part of the planning application for Nickoll’s quarry (now Martello Lakes). The s106 agreement for that development includes a prepared site for the new facility which Shepway can buy for £1. The agreement also provides for a payment of £3.2m towards the new facility whether at Martello Lakes or elsewhere in Hythe.

In 2012 Shepway DC commissioned 2 sets of consultants’ reports. One from Strategic Leisure looking at the preferred site for the leisure centre (NQ, Princes Parade and the existing site) and one from GVA looking at Princes Parade.  The brief to GVA said

The purpose of this project is to secure a residential allocation for the mixed use redevelopment of Shepway District Council owned land at Princes Parade, Hythe in the council’s proposed Site Allocation Development Plan Document.”

Mixed use included the new recreation centre, a new Seabrook Primary School and housing.

Strategic Leisure concluded (without any public consultation) that the preferred site should be Princes Parade although the report itself didn’t provide overwhelming evidence to support that. This recommendation was accepted by Cabinet at their meeting in December 2012 when they also authorised officers to continue with the project.

In July 2013 Cabinet authorised the officers to look at a revised plan which included looking at the linked sites as well as identify the sources of funding (which has still not been made public.). At this stage Shepway had still not done a viability study of their plans nor had they done a contamination study.

In May 2014 Cabinet considered further reports from Strategic leisure (who now recommended a cheaper model for the leisure centre) and GVA.  The financial assessments provided by GVA were “high level”.  Jeremy Chambers said he would ask GVA to provide more detailed financial data but this was never done. It was agreed that the number of houses be limited to 36 and that a covenant be out in place to protect any remaining open space and parkland. We remained concerned that Shepway had still not identified all the costs and potential risks. GVA and Strategic Leisure differed in opinion as to whether the east or west end of Princes Parade would be the most suitable so it was agreed this would be put to the public. Unfortunately this was done by Shepway’s PR consultants who insisted that the contaminated waste would be removed. Shepway eventually conceded the waste would be capped not removed.

During the summer of 2014, Shepway commissioned a heritage study from Lee Evans. Shepway weren’t keen to publish this but we eventually got hold of it via a FoI request. Lee Evans recommended that Shepway delete housing from their proposal and discussed the risk of significant damage to the Royal Military Canal if the Leisure Centre is built on Princes Parade. Historic England have serious concerns about the effect on the setting of the Royal Military Canal. Read more here.

Early in 2015, Shepway held a public consultation as part of the Local Plan process. 80% of those who responded to the Princes Parade question were against development on the site but Shepway have never publicly acknowledged this.

In July 2015 Shepway officers attended a Hythe Town Council meeting with proposals to put a new pool and housing either on the existing site and/or on the South Road recreation ground. Both of these options were later ruled out (mainly because of parking but also because Shepway needs the capital receipt from the existing pool to part fund the new facility) but Hythe Town Council suggested they also look at The Green for the new leisure centre.

On 28th October 2015 Shepway’s resource Scrutiny Committee recommended that Cabinet reconsider Nickoll’s Quarry as the preferred site but cabinet ignored that recommendation.

On 4th November Cabinet were presented with a new report which:

-said that the new primary school was not financially viable (any final decision resting with Kent County Council);

– included a comparison of the 5 possible sites for the leisure centre including The Green concluding that The Green should be the preferred site with Princes Parade second preference. (However we would dispute the reasons given for ruling out NQ.)  Note that even if the leisure centre was built on The Green then there would be housing on Princes Parade.

– said that remedial measures would be needed to deal with the contamination (but note the contamination will be capped not removed.)

– included land value assessments for the various sites (note that lower density housing on Princes Parade gives rise to a higer land value because more of the land would have to be sold off.)

– recommended submitting outline planning applications for The Green (subject to HTC approval) and Princes Parade

Some of the supporting documents (including the contamination report and another report from Lee Evans looking at the planning risks due to risk of harm to the Royal Military Canal)  were published on Shepway’s own Princes Parade website but it is not clear if cabinet members were aware of this.


At the cabinet meeting Councillor Collier tried to ask how this fitted in with the Local Plan (currently a work in progress) but was ignored.

The report failed to mention the previously agreed covenant on the open space on PP nor the limit of 36 houses but it was confirmed at the meeting that that the relevant resolution still stands.

Hythe Town council  agreed to make part of The Green available to Shepway for the new leisure centre but during the full council meeting at Shepway on 24 February Councillor Monk said that because of problems with the covenant on The Green the leisure centre would be built on Princes Parade after all. He tried to claim there would be no extra cost of building it there – thus ignoring the contamination, harm to the Canal and other known and unknown problems of developing the site.

On 6 April 2016 a report was presented to the Resource Scrutiny Committee. This report was not made public and the public were  excluded from the meeting on the grounds that a third party was involved and hadn’t given their permission. Shepway attempted to do the same for the cabinet meeting on 13th April. We argued that they had not given the required notice/and or reasons. In the end the Hythe & Saltwood Sailing Club who were apparently the third party gave permission for their identity to be revealed and so the public were allowed into the meeting at the last minute.

At the meeting cabinet were presented  with a land use report which showed three options – all three including 150 or more new homes ; two include a leisure centre  and one a “yacht” (they mean sailing) club.  Cabinet members unanimously voted to allow officers to use this report as a basis for a planning application. A budget of £500k for this preparatory work has already been agreed. Officers are due to report back to cabinet before November 2016

Princes Parade is currently designated for open space and recreation – not housing and despite the fact that Shepway keep referring to it as a brownfield site it is not a “previously developed site” as defined in the NPPF. We believe that any attempt to change  the designation of the site should be carried out via the Local Plan ie the proper democratic process.

You can read more about the various council/cabinet meetings including watching videos of some of them here and read some of the reports here.