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More clearance work starts at Princes Parade site in Hythe


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Another protest is being staged at a beauty spot as more work to clear land ahead of the construction of a divisive seafront development starts.

A new leisure centre, 150 homes, green spaces and shops will be built next to the coastal road Princes Parade in Hythe.

Residents are protesting at Princes Parade after work started on site to clear more vegetation
Residents are protesting at Princes Parade after work started on site to clear more vegetation

Despite years of objections and demonstrations, as well as a court battle, the scheme was granted permission in 2019.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) is behind the scheme and this week revealed vegetation will be cleared to make the area ready for construction.

It comes as the council says it has 'successfully' completed a phase to capture all reptiles on the land and relocate them to a different habitat within the nearby Royal Military Canal corridor.

Work is also ongoing to relocate badgers to an artificial sett, which has been created by the council.

But residents fear the work is premature and this morning gathered along the road with a banner reading 'Say No' and 'Save Princes Parade'.

Artist's impression of the proposed leisure centre at Princes Parade
Artist's impression of the proposed leisure centre at Princes Parade

Protester Hilary St Clare said: "The council have decided to clear the site near the golf course. They're stripping the grass. It is pretty horrendous to see.

"And of course there is no guarantee there are no animals under there.

"It is also pretty close to the new badger sett, so all this work won't encourage them to move over."

Ms St Clare says there is a lot of support for the objectors, with people driving past waving and tooting their horns.

As part of the council's plans for the Princes Parade development, the road is to be moved closer to the canal.

Princes Parade project map
Princes Parade project map

This part of the project has yet to receive planning permission, and last week a four day public inquiry into stopping up the road launched in Folkestone.

A fifth day is scheduled for next month.

Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green), FHDC member for Hythe ward, said: "In terms of this work, I think it is completely premature as they don't have permission to stop up the road."

Another protest was held at the site in March this year when workers started removing trees and vegetation on the bank of the canal, and prompted a police response.

In August, activists, many part of the Save Princes Parade action group, formed a human chain around the site and marched along the seafront to show the anger over the development.

Picture shows the relocation plans for Princes Parade road
Picture shows the relocation plans for Princes Parade road

Overall, those against the plans argue it will destroy the beauty of the land and devastate the site’s ecology and wildlife, while obliterating the historic seafront views.

FHDC says the work to 'safely and sensitively relocate slow worms, common lizards and grass snakes' was 'completed in line with the appropriate guidelines and planning conditions by suitably qualified ecologists'

The work starting today to clear vegetation will 'ensure all reptiles have been found and that those already relocated do not return to what is now a site becoming ready for construction'.

A spokesman for the authority said: “While we are confident the vast majority of reptiles have been found, it is common for clearance work of this nature to take place to ensure that is the case.

“It will, once again, be overseen by experienced ecologists.

Previous protest at Princes Parade in August. Photo: James Willmott
Previous protest at Princes Parade in August. Photo: James Willmott

"The cutting back - depending on the weather conditions - could generate some noise and dust in the local area but we will minimise any impact wherever possible.

“Our timetable was specifically designed with the aim of ensuring any visual impact was delayed until after the summer months.”

Fencing is also expected to be placed on the site’s boundaries soon to 'ensure the area is secure and keep the public safe' from what will soon be a construction site.

Access will remain via the central path bisecting the site and along the path to the western edge of the boundary with the golf course.

To watch back the public inquiry, visit here.

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe

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