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Campaigners plan protest march in continuing fight to stop 10,000 home development Otterpool Park at Folkestone Racecourse

A campaign group fighting a major 10,000-home development is organising its first protest march in three years.

It comes just weeks after the first official planning documents were submitted for the proposed Otterpool Park garden town - a settlement including more than 50% projected green space, stretching between Ashford and Hythe.

The greenfield site project, proposed by landowners Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) and Cozumel Estates, would be delivered in phases over three decades.

How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement
How Otterpool Park Riverside Park could look. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement

The outline planning application seeks permission for the first 8,500 homes and was first made available for public consumption last month.

If approved, bosses hope construction on the 765 hectare site will begin next year.

It has been forecast that land around Westenhanger railway station and Newingreen will receive treatment first, creating an area called the Gateway.

The land earmarked for Otterpool Park Garden Town
The land earmarked for Otterpool Park Garden Town

But campaigners from the group No Otterpool New Town are ramping up their efforts to have the plans thrown out and have organised a demonstration for the end of the month.

David Plumstead, who is co-ordinating the event, said: “The whole point of the march is a reminder to people that nothing’s changed.”

Mr Plumstead last led a march in the town against the plans in 2016.

Protesters oppose plans for 12,000 houses to be built on the former Folkestone racecourse near Westenhanger
Protesters oppose plans for 12,000 houses to be built on the former Folkestone racecourse near Westenhanger

Mr Plumstead last led a march in the town against the plans in 2016.

Built around Folkestone Racecourse, the development would gradually connect villages including Westenhanger, Lympne and Sellindge, with green space ‘buffers’.

Original plans for 12,000 homes were reduced by 2,000 in the masterplan, with a council report saying half of them would have to be flats if that many were built.

Of the total 10,000 homes proposed, 8,700 would be residential on around 215 hectares with 1300 ‘extra care’ housing units for older people on 12 hectares.

What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement
What the Otterpool Park 'local centres' could look like. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement

But Mr Plumstead and others in the group are concerned over potential water shortages, traffic air pollution and the loss of countryside.

There would also be retail and business space and a transport interchange, if approved.

Mr Plumstead said: “It’s a David and Goliath thing.

"We have got no money - we are really up against it.

"The important thing is for people to object in principle to the whole thing.”

How Westenghanger Park at Otterpool Park might look. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement
How Westenghanger Park at Otterpool Park might look. Picture: Arcadis Design and Access statement

The plans recently received funding from the government and Homes England.

"In February 2019, the Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government pledged £1.25m to the project, the largest sum of the 21 proposed garden town schemes.

The Otterpool Park board is now planning additional public exhibitions for members of the public to view the papers in greater detail and comment.

The application is open for public consultation until Monday, May 27.

The protest march will be held on Saturday, April 27.

There was previously a consultation on Otterpool housing development Lympne Village Hall Picture: Gary Browne
There was previously a consultation on Otterpool housing development Lympne Village Hall Picture: Gary Browne

Attendees should arrive by 9.30am for a 10am start at Douglas Avenue in Hythe, opposite Waitrose.

To view the planning application in detail and comment, visit the FHDC planning portal or visit the development’s website by clicking here.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone


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