Published: 15:49, 18 October 2018
| Updated: 15:51, 18 October 2018
A campaign group, which saw over 200 protesters march on the council in a bid to stop a controversial seafront development being approved, have begun fundraising for legal costs to take the matter to the High Court.
Outline planning permission to build homes, a hotel, shops and a new leisure centre with swimming pool on Princes Parade was narrowly approved by district planning officers in August.
More than 700 formally objected the loss of green space and natural habitat, while a further 6000 signed a petition for Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) to scrap the plans.
But the appeal was not formally considered by FHDC, which submitted the application itself.
Now, the Save Princes Parade group have started a fundraising campaign for a Judicial Review, a court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
Lesley Whybrow from the campaign group said: "The advice we have been given is to wait until the Secretary of State has made his decision about the call in, but we are prepared to go ahead should the Secretary of State not decide to call it in."
While FHDC claims developing the old landfill site will bring economic benefits, campaigners who have fought the project for years say the business plan is flawed and are also worried about the development’s proximity to the Royal Military Canal, a Scheduled Monument.
The group now plans to fundraise their looming legal fees with activities and sponsorship.
Princes Parade calendars for 2019 have been produced and are being sold for £10 each, while a ladies' night is set to take place at the Fountain Pub in Hythe on Wednesday, November 7 at 8pm with a clothes swap. More details can be found on Facebook.
In addition, Jim Martin, chairman of Save Princes Parade, will be running the New York Marathon on November 6 in aid of the fundraiser.
The news comes as the council revealed that the project would receive a multi-million pound government cash injection to kick start development.
The Princes Parade site along with Biggins Wood in Folkestone are set to be handed grants from Home England’s Accelerated Development fund amounting to almost £3 million to accelerate the building programme across both sites, with around £2 million going towards the seafront plot.
Mrs Whybrow continued: "Our view is that the grant is no where near enough to make up for the massive financial shortfall that the council has failed to recognise.
"We are still very concerned about the financial risk the council is taking by continuing with this project."
Cllr David Monk, leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, said: "Our proposals will bring new life to both these sites and provide much-needed family homes for local residents. It’s encouraging to receive this endorsement from government who share our view that these ambitious developments are important for the district and should proceed without delay.
"At Biggins Wood, we are maximising the use of brownfield land and at Princes Parade we are making use of a dormant, contaminated site. Both developments will provide welcome opportunities for local companies during the construction phase.
"The grants mean we can start work sooner and will provide an important boost to the local economy quicker than expected.”