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Car parking is top concern at public consultation over further plans for Folkestone seafront redevelopment


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Parking and transport links have once again proved to be the main area of concern over plans for further redevelopment on Folkestone seafront.

A public exhibition of the plans for the next phase of the ambitious regeneration of the harbour drew hundreds of visitors over two days, with many voicing fears over accessibility for drivers.

More flats planned as part of the Folkestone seafront masterplan. Picture: Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company
More flats planned as part of the Folkestone seafront masterplan. Picture: Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company

The Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company (FHSDC), which is led by billionaire philanthropist Sir Roger De Haan, has unveiled plans for new public square at the foot of the historic Leas Lift as well as a block of 13 apartments.

Trevor Minter, a director of the development company, told KentOnline the issue of parking and infrastructure is being looked at in collaboration with the county and district councils.

"This is a quite a difficult place to travel in and out of, public transport's not good, and there are the levels [from The Leas to the seafront] to contend with," he said.

"If we're trying to sell apartments and houses, they're going to want a parking space, and I can tell you that in this consultation as with every previous consultation the first thing everybody asks is 'what about the parking?'

"We're certainly dealing with all the demand that we're creating in the housing units. But of course the harbour arm is becoming incredibly popular and we need to work with the councils to find solutions."

Trevor Minter is a director of the Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company
Trevor Minter is a director of the Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company
A public exhibition has been held as part of a consultation over the latest phase of the redevelopment of Folkestone seafront
A public exhibition has been held as part of a consultation over the latest phase of the redevelopment of Folkestone seafront

Jan Doyle, who lives on The Leas, was among the scores of visitors to the consultation event yesterday.

She said: "I think it could be quite interesting to see it and could tidy up that area. I just hope that the Lift comes to fruition and is repaired as soon as possible.

"The other thing is car parking. Folkestone relies on people coming in, day-trippers, and if you can't park then they won't come."

Emily Fahey, who opened the Lift Cafe at the foot of the Leas Lift in September 2020 with fiancé Jamie Evans, is seeking an alcohol license with a view to the business growing further as the new residents begin to move in.

"I think it looks brilliant," she said of the latest plans for next phase of the development.

Emily Fahey and her partner Jamie Evans run the Lift Cafe at the foot of the Leas Lift in Folkestone
Emily Fahey and her partner Jamie Evans run the Lift Cafe at the foot of the Leas Lift in Folkestone
Latest plans for the redevelopment around the area of the Leas Lift on Folkestone seafront have been revealed. Picture: Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company
Latest plans for the redevelopment around the area of the Leas Lift on Folkestone seafront have been revealed. Picture: Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company

"I think it will have like a little community feel, and a pedestrian area where people can sit and have a coffee. I just think it looks brilliant.

"That's why we want to get the licence now, just to give us options going forward. As those flats do go up and people do move in they might want a little nice bar in the evening or something like that."

FHSDC is contributing £750,000 to the project to restore the water-balance lift, in addition to money from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Architectural Heritage Fund and Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC).

Mr Minter said: "I was involved at the start and people thought we could fix the Leas Lift for £85,000. They're now looking at a £5 million problem because it's not just getting the thing going again, you've got to have enough income top and bottom from cafes and so on to subsidise the cost because it's not really an economic journey.

"That's what the brilliant charity board are working on and they've got through the first phase of getting a heritage lottery grant. Then they'll have to do their own fundraising, and our £750,000 will be a significant contribution to that.

The former Rotunda amusement park is now being redeveloped for housing. Picture: Matt McArdle
The former Rotunda amusement park is now being redeveloped for housing. Picture: Matt McArdle

"So I'm very optimistic that they will pull it off and that we will see the Leas Lift running in two or three years' time, which would be a great facility for our residents who'll be living down there."

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