Plans to transform a car park which sits opposite a luxury block of flats have been approved.
The proposal will see the “erection of a roof, security fencing, a gate and 11 storage units” at the Marina Car Park, which will now be exclusively for residents at Shoreline Crescent on Folkestone seafront.
The car park – previously used by the public – has been temporarily closed while the new building has been under construction, but the developer has now been given permission to reopen it.
In 2015, the site was run by Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) and was used by people visiting the town.
Three years later it was taken over by the Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company (FHSDC) – which is led by ex-Saga boss Sir Roger de Haan and is behind the new flats on the beach.
According to the planning documents, the car park will be surrounded by steel fencing and vertical bars, and a gate is proposed instead of a barrier to allow cars to enter and exit.
This will remain in the same location as the current access, “therefore having no impact on build-up of traffic”.
The storage units will be available for residents to hire and use.
However, the New Folkestone Society say they are unhappy with the plans as “cars do not need to be hidden”.
In a statement released via the council’s planning portal, members of the civic society said the “materials being used are completely inappropriate”.
Furthermore, it states the plans are “inaccurate” and does not “sufficiently describe the conservation area and listed buildings either side of the site, their significance, or the level of harm the proposal will have on them”.
The New Folkestone Society added: “We are unconvinced that this is the optimum viable use for this site.
“It is close to the cliff and would perhaps be suitable for a development of a modest size, or else left as an open car park.
“Cars are not ugly and do not need hiding.”
New owners are expected to move into the Shoreline Crescent apartments, opposite the car park, in the near future.
The flats are the first phase of an overall masterplan for the town’s coastline, which will eventually see 1,000 homes line the entire beach from the Leas Lift to the harbour arm.
The look of the homes to be created on the harbour arm – the eastern side of the beach – have been criticised by locals, who compared the look of them to something out of The Flintstones.
In response to some of the criticism from the New Folkestone Society, FHSDC say designers for the project say the car park will be “as attractive as can be” and say “the application is being made to provide additional shelter, security, storage and planting”.
A spokesperson said: “The landscape designers for the project have included extensive planting around the car park to soften its appearance and make it as attractive as it can be.
“The site is currently in use as a car park and it has been a car park for many years. The application is being made to provide additional shelter, security, storage and planting.”
Furthermore, despite fears from the New Folkestone Society that “the historic boundary wall will not be left untouched”, FHSDC have confirmed the wall is proposed to be “retained and restored” as part of the application.
The spokesperson added: “There is currently no green planting within the car parking area.
“The application proposes to introduce a new green roof along with new-planted borders around the edge of the site behind the historic stone wall that is proposed to be retained.
“Further, new trees are proposed within the Leas Lift Square and along Marine Parade (in other applications) that will further enhance the surrounding area.”