Published: 10:38, 18 June 2021
| Updated: 09:32, 21 June 2021
A petition has been launched calling for a public inquiry looking into the stopping up of a coastal road to make way for a new housing development.
Work has already started on land along Princes Parade in Hythe - which runs parallel to the beach - for the scheme, which will include 150 homes, a hotel, a leisure centre, shops and open green spaces.
As part of the plans - which are being led by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) - the road will be stopped up closer to the Royal Military Canal.
A planning application for this part of the scheme has been submitted to the Department for Transport under reference: NATTRAN/SE/S247/3254
Documents submitted to the government body from FHDC read: “By relocating the road to the rear of the site, we can generate a vehicle free link from the proposed leisure centre and housing development to the beach and existing promenade.”
However, people are concerned over how easily emergency services will be able to access the seafront once the road is moved. There are also fears it will create further congestion along Seabrook Road.
Now, a fresh petition has been launched, by Conservative Kent County Councillors Rory Love and Andrew Weatherhead, calling for a public inquiry.
The online petition reads: "We the undersigned, together with petition organisers, Kent County Councillors Rory Love and Andrew Weatherhead, urge the Secretary of State for Transport, in the interests of due process and transparency, to call a local public inquiry to consider the objections thoroughly and openly before deciding whether to make a Section 247 Order on the stopping up and diversion of Princes Parade, Hythe."
It continues: "Many of the issues raised by the public and by Cllr Rory Love about the proposed stopping up, relocation, and traffic calming of Princes Parade and their impact on the wider local road network were neither answered nor even addressed at the stage of the planning application.
"Furthermore, such are the errors, misrepresentation, and avoidance of the issues in the report commissioned by Folkestone & Hythe District Council in response to the objections to the Stopping Up Order, that we believe the only way to address the objections, and to be seen to be addressing the objections, is for the Secretary of State for Transport to call a local public inquiry."
So far, 927 people have put their signatures to the petition.
The Princes Parade scheme has been opposed for many years and has been subject to protests and even a court battle headed by action group Save Princes Parade, which was eventually lost at Judicial Review.
Work started on the development this year, including some trees and vegetation being removed along the northern bank of the canal, plus sampling across the site at varying levels and depths using a number of different methods.
Save Princes Parade also claims stopping up the road is unnecessary.
A statement on their site reads: “There is no overriding need to move the road as the proposed buildings could be served from the existing road. It is therefore not necessary for it to be stopped up and realigned for this development to take place.”
A spokesman for FHDC said: “A consultation regarding the stopping up of the road has been held and we have set out our case to the Department for Transport.
"They will also take account of any objections raised and it is for them to decide the next appropriate stages.
“We believe the scheme will create a fantastic traffic-free promenade that can be enjoyed by all – as well as help improve road safety along our coastline.”
To sign the petition, click here.