Published: 06:00, 23 August 2020
| Updated: 07:02, 23 August 2020
Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) has been accused of "keeping residents in the dark” over its controversial Otterpool Park development.
The claim came from Cllr Nicola Keen (Lab), who said residents had asked her when the business plan for the massive new ‘garden town’ - destined for land on and around the former Folkestone Racecourse site - will be released to the public.
But Cllr Keen, a member of FHDC, said: “[Residents] are aware the council is planning the development and that the district now own the racecourse and a castle, but as ratepayers feel they are not being kept up to date, and are in the dark, and would like to be informed of what benefits the development will have for them as residents.”
The vacant racecourse land will be used for part of the 10,000-home housing project while the castle will become the centrepiece of the development, the council says.
Cllr Keen also questioned how a £100m loan taken out by FHDC in 2019 for the Otterpool scheme will be paid back .
Her questions were put to Cllr David Monk, leader of FHDC, at a question and answer session held by the authority.
Cllr Monk (Con) replied: “I regret that constituents feel they are being kept in the dark. I do not consider the residents have been kept in the dark.”
He said information is available on a dedicated website for Otterpool Park - www.otterpoolpark.org - and on FHDC’s website and planning portal.
He added: “Specifically, the business plan is currently being drawn up. The intention is the cabinet will consider the final proposal for the business plan in December.
“The overview and scrutiny committee will have the opportunity to consider the draft before it is placed before the cabinet.”
Cllr Monk said there will be “certain elements” of the business plan that will remain confidential for commercial reasons.
He concluded: “Once the business plan has been approved all non-confidential elements will be in the public domain.
“In general terms, this will show the returns on the council’s investment.”
If approved, Otterpool Park will include 10,000 new homes, extensive green space, new schools, shops and will lead to the creation of up to 9,000 jobs, bosses say.
An outline planning application for the scheme was submitted last year and, if approved, the scheme is planned to be built in phases over the next 30 years.
Earlier this year, five directors were appointed to join the board of a new business overseeing the development of the scheme.
The new business is called Otterpool Park Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) and has been established by FHDC to “drive forward” the project.