Published: 16:45, 17 November 2021
| Updated: 10:49, 19 November 2021
Campaigners say they fear a coastal town is being “crushed from all sides” by developments on green spaces.
The comments come from the Folkestone pressure group Keep the East Cliff Green (KECG) which has been set up to fight plans to redevelop the recreation area known as Jock’s Pitch.
They are urging all the regular dog walkers who use the open space on the east side of the town to come together for a protest on November 28 as part of a wider ‘day of action’ against the over-development of green spaces in Kent.
Those opposed to the Princes Parade project in Hythe will also participate and will wear black as they ‘mourn’ the loss of the beauty spot to make way for a 150-home scheme.
Both campaigns are staging these events under the banner of Save Kent’s Green Spaces, a countywide day of protests against development organised by the Save Capel group which is battling plans for a garden village of 4,960 homes near Tunbridge Wells.
Janine Gray, from the East Cliff group, said: “I feel our town is about to be crushed from all sides by building projects of various scales. This particular green space I had thought would always be safe.”
The development along the coast in Hythe has been long fought by members of Save Princes Parade (SPP) and Wild Against Princes Parade (WAPP), who argue the scheme is unnecessary and will harm wildlife.
Nicki Stuart, from WAPP, said: “Showing our support for the #savekentsgreenspaces action day is so important.
“It sends a message to our town, parish, district and county councillors, as well as our MPs, that we want to stop the destruction of our beloved Garden of England.
“We need people in local and national government who care about our green spaces, wildlife and heritage, who value these things above the short term gains of executive homes.
“The action day will be an eye opener, showing how much of Kent is threatened with development.
“We need to take on the messages from COP26 and find a different way of moving towards a sustainable future that doesn’t involve concreting over our countryside.”
Mark Brophy, from SPP, added: “At a time when green space is more important than ever for both the planet and human wellbeing, how can this destruction be justified?”
The Save Capel group has linked up with a number of other residents’ groups, including Save Our Heathlands, who are campaigning against Maidstone council’s plans for a 5,000-home garden village at Lenham Heath.
Organiser David Lovell said: “Each group will do its own thing in its own area. And all the protests will be polite and respectful of the law.
“The idea was born out of a number of campaign groups who were in communication, sharing ideas and experience.
“We came to realise that the scale of what was being proposed across the county’s green spaces, productive agricultural land and wildlife habitat was truly shocking.”
In response to the opposition, a spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe council said: "Princes Parade and East Cliff will have huge public benefit, both in terms of housing (Princes Parade) but also the enhanced and modernised additional facilities we are looking to provide.
"These include a new leisure centre and other leisure provisions, such as playgrounds, café and open parkland. These investments in our infrastructure are for wider community benefit and use.
"Princes Parade is the site of a former tip, which is not accessible for public use. East Cliff – which is still at a scoping phase and will include full consultation with the community – will not take away open space."