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Otterpool Park development receives objection from Hythe Town Council

By Sam Williams

Hythe Town Council has this week lodged an official objection against the controversial Otterpool Park development.

The proposed new garden town would see 10,000 new homes built on land surrounding Folkestone racecourse and would be delivered in several phases over three decades.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) and Cozumel Estates are behind the project, who earlier this year released an outline planning application seeking permission for the first 8,500 homes.

How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (11462343)
How Otterpool Park could look. Credit: FHDC (11462343)

As well as homes, the development could include new schools, health centres, office space, convenience stores, sports halls and green spaces, if given the green light.

But now, councillors on Hythe Town Council (HTC) have come together to lodge an objection to the plans.

Their response states that the development is not sustainable in terms of water supply, transport infrastructure, health services, affordable homes, ecological impact and loss of prime agricultural land.

The objection also details concerns that Otterpool "does nothing to support the regeneration of Folkestone and Ashford" and could even "take jobs and services away from them" and have "a negative impact on surrounding villages".

Lots of green spaces are planned for the development. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement
Lots of green spaces are planned for the development. Credit: Arcadis Design and Access statement

The objection also raises concerns that the development will place additional strains on existing health services.

It states: "HTC is not convinced the Otterpool development will attract GPs to the area, instead creating significant additional demand on GP services, and the town council has serious doubts whether hospital and adult and children’s social services would be able to cope with such a huge increase in the local population."

It adds that while the town council does support the need for more affordable and social housing for local first-time buyers and renters, it wants any development in the district to be of "an appropriate scale".

The response was drafted by Green Party town councillors Jenni Hawkins, Jim Martin and Martin Whybrow along with Lib Dem Tim Prater.

Cllr Doug Wade, Mayor for Hythe
Cllr Doug Wade, Mayor for Hythe

It was voted on at a full council meeting on Monday (June 24) and was passed by seven votes to six, with five Conservatives and independent Harry Williams voting against.

Green party councillor Douglas Wade, who sits on both the town and district council and is also the mayor of Hythe, said: "Rather than being planned through proper consultation with local residents, as the government requires new garden towns to be, this feels like a scheme that is being done TO local communities, not WITH them."

The objection comes following a re-shuffling of the town council at the May elections; the previous Conservative-led council had rejected the idea of a council response to the proposed development.

The plans will be discussed for the first time by district councillors when a report setting out the proposed delivery programme will be presented to FHDC's Cabinet on Wednesday, July 19.

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe

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