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Princes Parade housing scheme in Hythe gets £2 million boost from government


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The divisive Princes Parade development in Hythe has received a £2 million boost by central government.

The money comes from the Brownfield Land Release Fund and will be used to prepare the site along the coastal road ahead of the construction of 150 homes.

New fencing has gone up around parts of Princes Parade and land cleared in preparation for the construction next year. Picture: Barry Goodwin
New fencing has gone up around parts of Princes Parade and land cleared in preparation for the construction next year. Picture: Barry Goodwin

A leisure centre with a swimming pool, play areas and shops are also proposed for the space - a former waste tip -, where work to clear trees, vegetation and wildlife started earlier this year.

The ambitious scheme was granted planning permission in 2019, despite years of objections, protests and pleas from residents who argue the land is unsuitable and say the proposal will harm the environment.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council is behind the plans, which also includes stopping up Princes Parade road and creating a new one closer to the Royal Military Canal. A public inquiry is being held into this part of the scheme.

In the announcement about the £2 million funding, the authority said it was the second time the government had awarded the cash for the project, but the first grant was lost "due to the failed and time-consuming judicial review and attempted appeal".

The judicial review was launched by members of action group Save Princes Parade, who, in court papers, argued the decision to grant the project planning permission was ‘plainly unlawful’, and cited the planning officer’s report as ‘significantly’ misleading the planning committee.

Artist's impression of the Princes Parade development, where a new swimming pool will be built
Artist's impression of the Princes Parade development, where a new swimming pool will be built

The review and subsequent appeal were both lost.

But campaigners have not stopped in their efforts to halt the development, with the latest protest taking place this past Sunday.

In response to the money being awarded, Cllr David Monk (Con), council leader, said: “I’m delighted the government agrees with the benefits of this project.

"It will transform a disused brownfield site with poor ecological credentials and provide quality housing to address local needs.

"This isn’t the first time we’ve received funding for this development.

People gathered at Princes Parade on Sunday for the Save Kent's Green Spaces campaign
People gathered at Princes Parade on Sunday for the Save Kent's Green Spaces campaign

"Unfortunately we lost the first grant - a significant investment into the district - due to the failed and time-consuming judicial review and attempted appeal.

"To receive such backing for a second time is testament to the thoroughness of our work throughout the formation of this scheme, which continues to progress at a good pace despite the best efforts of a small number of people."

However, some people have taken umbrage against the phrase 'small number' when referring to those who object to the scheme, as well as the way the judicial review is being blamed for the first grant being lost.

Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green), a district councillor and cabinet member for the council, said: "It needs to be recognised that it is not a small number of people who object to the development but the vast majority of people who live in the area.

"They have demonstrated this over and over again by objecting to the planning application, by signing petitions, by raising the funds for the judicial review and not least by the way they voted in May 2019.

"Following that election, full council voted to withdraw the planning application but that vote was ignored.

Work has also been ongoing to relocate badgers to a new artificial sett, with one way doors installed
Work has also been ongoing to relocate badgers to a new artificial sett, with one way doors installed

"It also needs to be recognised that local people have been heartbroken by the environmental damage that has been done both on the site and on the north bank of the canal.

"Damage inflicted by a council that declared an ecological emergency in June 2019."

Another resident said: "The judicial review and appeal were not 'time-consuming' but part of the democracy in which we are supposed to live."

A third resident said: "Criticising your citizens (not to mention, tax payers) for exercising their democratic right to have your decisions reviewed is not a good look, nor is blaming them for the loss of the previous grant. JRs are only granted if there are grounds."

The grant awarded for the Princes Parade project comes from a pot of cash designed to support local authorities bring forward brownfield sites for housing development and self and custom-built serviced plots.

"Damage inflicted by a council that declared an ecological emergency in June 2019..."

Housing minister Christopher Pincher MP said: "I’m delighted that Hythe is receiving £2 million to deliver new homes and create vibrant local spaces - all part of an exciting new regeneration project.

"By redeveloping previously-neglected brownfield sites we are revitalising towns and cities across our country and delivering on our commitment to level up every corner of the UK by building new homes, creating jobs and boosting local economies."

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