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Otterpool Park documents go live on Folkestone and Hythe District Council planning portal website

The documents for a controversial garden town project have officially gone live online for the public to view.

Campaigners and those living near to the proposed Otterpool Park development have been waiting with bated breath to see the new literature in recent weeks, after the outline planning application for the first 8,500 homes surrounding Folkestone Racecourse was submitted to Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) at the end of last month.

A spokesman for the development confirmed it was validated by council officers on Monday night.

How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883045)
How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883045)

Planning validation is carried out on an application by a local authority, who assess the submitted information. It signals the start of the process in which permission is either granted or refused. The plans were subjected to the usual planning validation period, and are available for all to see for the first time this week.

The greenfield development, proposed by site landowners FHDC and Cozumel Estates, will be delivered in phases over the next 30 years.

If approved, 10,000 homes in total will be built between Westenhanger, Lympne and Sellindge, with offices, shops, medical facilities and schools.

A new website for the project launched this week, featuring a link to the relevant information, and it is understood there is an increased percentage in the amount of green space expected to be delivered.

Original plans for 12,000 homes were reduced by 2,000 in the masterplan, with a council report saying half of them would have to be flats if that many were built.

It was initially intended to promote around 40% green space amongst the homes, but new documents suggest the figure will be nearer to 50%.

A spokesman for Otterpool Park said: "The increase in green space can be accounted for by reducing the number of homes in the masterplan and by extending the site boundary in order to reduce the density of the development, which was something that came out the public consultations that took place. There's no plan to reduce this amount."

Affordable housing is expected to make up 22% of the homes.

How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883049)
How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883049)

Cllr David Monk, leader of FHDC, said: "We’re committed to delivering a new community that will contribute to the success of the Folkestone and Hythe district as a whole.

"The site is a credible and sustainable solution to local housing need and will provide high-quality housing of all types.

"In line with the area’s growing population, Otterpool Park will address demand now and for future generations.

How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883051)
How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (7883051)

"Infrastructure improvements, additional jobs and community facilities will benefit Otterpool Park residents as well as the communities around it.

"The master planning process has been developed over three years, and we have consulted with hundreds of local residents who have directly influenced our plans.

"We are confident this is a viable solution to the area’s needs and that we will deliver a community that will become a gold standard for modern garden towns across the UK.”

Otterpool Park boundary map (7885406)
Otterpool Park boundary map (7885406)

The plans recently received funding from the Government and Homes England. In February 2019, the Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government pledged £1.25m to the project, the largest sum of the 21 proposed garden town schemes.

The Otterpool Park board is now planning additional public exhibitions for members of the public to view the papers in greater detail and comment.

To view the planning application in detail, visit the FHDC planning portal.

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