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Princes Parade development to go ahead after appeal is refused

Divisive plans to build along a coastal road will finally go ahead - after a campaign group fighting to stop the project lost their latest court battle.

A hotel, shops, green spaces, children’s play areas, a leisure centre with a swimming pool and 150 new homes are destined for green land off Princes Parade, in Hythe.

Land at Princes Parade will be transformed with a new hotel, shops and homes
Land at Princes Parade will be transformed with a new hotel, shops and homes

The project will also see Princes Parade road re-located closer to the Royal Military Canal.

Planning permission for the scheme was awarded by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) - which is also the developer behind it - last year.

In response, action group, Save Princes Parade (SPP), launched judicial review in an attempt to stop the council building on the currently empty land, a popular walking spot.

This is a process under which executive or legislative actions are subject to review by the judiciary.

As well as calling the scheme ‘unlawful’, SPP members said the planning officer’s report ‘significantly’ mislead the planning committee when they approved the development.

Artist's impression of the proposed new leisure centre
Artist's impression of the proposed new leisure centre

In June, a judge dismissed the group’s claims in court.

Within weeks SPP lodged appeal papers, but today , FHDC announced permission to appeal has been refused.

A spokesman for the council said: "Lord Justice Newey upheld the previous judgement of Mr. Justice Dove - refusing the appeal and upholding the judicial review proceedings in their entirety.

"Last November FHDC planning decision was upheld by the High Court with the judge - Mrs. Justice Lieven - rebutting the arguments for judicial review in turn.

"She awarded up to £5,000 to the council in costs."

Aerial sketch view of how the Princes Parade development could look
Aerial sketch view of how the Princes Parade development could look

Cllr David Monk, FHDC leader, added: "I am delighted with this outcome.

"Appropriate due diligence is always applied by the council when considering planning decisions.

"Today’s decision draws a line under a long-running saga and provides further vindication that the process the council followed was correct."

FHDC says there are no other routes of appeal against the decision, and therefore the Princes Parade development can now go ahead. It is not yet known when work might start.

The battle to save land at Princes Parade has been long-fought, and the proposal has been subject to years of criticism, objections and protests.

The site of the proposed development along Princes Parade. Picture: Chris Davey
The site of the proposed development along Princes Parade. Picture: Chris Davey

The development has also been called ecologically risky, harmful to wildlife and not financially viable.

Geoff Burrell, from Save Princes Parade, said: "We have today heard from our solicitor that we have not been granted leave to appeal against the judicial review decision.

"This is of course bad news and the end of the road for the legal challenge against the planning decision.

"However this is but one hurdle overcome by the district council who still have a load of very difficult problems to deal with in practice.

"Our formal challenge was only against the planners - because that is all that can be challenged by judicial review - whereas our real challenge is against the development itself.

"FHDC cannot ignore the fact that the vast majority of local people do not want this development, as witnessed by the 2019 local elections, because it decimates a highly valued and much used amenity.

"The true value of Princes Parade has certainly been felt during lockdown.

"For example, FHDC still has to overcome the many objections against “stopping up” the road.

"When they genuinely know the real costs they will certainly have to justify them as well as overcoming extensive environmental, drainage and ecological issues.

"They will fail on all those fronts. The Princes Parade solution is certainly not the cheapest and quickest means of providing a new swimming pool, in spite of what FHDC has claimed in the past."

SPP's Jean Baker added: "Although this is the end of Save Princes Parade’s challenge through the courts to put a stop to FHDC’s hugely unpopular plan to build luxury flats, a boutique hotel and leisure centre on Princes Parade, it is far from the end of our campaign.

"Today we would like to thank the thousands of local people who, in recent years, have objected to the development plans and have generously donated the tens of thousands of pounds that enabled us to take our case to court.

"We are also very appreciative of our opposition councillors who recognise the significance and value of Princes Parade to the community they represent and have spoken up against the council’s plans and voted against them at every possible opportunity.

"Generations of local people have fought hard to save this iconic and beautiful site from development. The battle will not end with this setback."

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe

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