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Shepway District Council plays down knotweed discovery near Princes Parade, Hythe

By Sean Axtell

An insidious plant, capable of destroying foundations and growing through brickwork, has been discovered near land earmarked for a major development.

Japanese knotweed, an alien plant that grows up to 10cm a day, has shot up on the path alongside the Royal Military Canal in Seabrook, adjacent to Princes Parade, the ex-landfill site earmarked for 150 homes and a leisure centre.

The plant, discovered last week, is notoriously expensive to clear.

Knotweed - A stone's throw from Princes Parade

But landowner Shepway District Council (SDC) has played down the discovery and said the east Asian plant is far enough away not to encroach on homes in the future.

An SDC spokesman said: “A small amount of japanese knotweed has been identified in bushes on the side of a footpath that runs alongside Royal Military Canal in Seabrook, adjacent to the development site.

“If japanese knotweed was discovered on the site itself it would be treated, and the site would be cleared before any development got underway and homes were built.

“Therefore, there would be no issue when the time came for homes to be sold.”

In February council officers denied japanese knotweed was growing on land at Princes Parade.

Knotweed - A stone's throw from Princes Parade

They said the invasive weed was removed from the site more than 10 years ago.

More recently, Geoff Burrell, from campaign group Save Princes Parade, said he took a photo of the plant three metres from the boundary of the development site.

He believes it’s “extremely likely” the plant has spread among the shrubs on the Princes Parade site.

However, SDC said that even if this were the case, the weed would be destroyed before homes were set to be sold.

Mr Burrell said: “It looks like the plant has come out sideways, from under the ground and on to the bank.

Contamination tests taking place on land off Princes Parade

“It’s about eight foot high. It’s about two or three metres away from the boundary of where SDC want to build.

“It’s extremely likely the plant has spread among the shrubs on the site.”

Alex Quaglin, sales manager at Ward and Partners Estate Agents in Folkestone, said: “If japanese knotweed has been identified on a site it is likely to return, so most mortgage lenders will refuse to lend because of the risk. The plant is a nightmare.”

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