Published: 11:49, 24 February 2021
| Updated: 07:34, 25 February 2021
Work on a controversial seafront development - which will include a new leisure centre - will start next month.
A contractor has been appointed to deliver a new swimming pool, as well as promenade and infrastructure works which will surround it, off Princes Parade in Hythe.
This will pave the way for the 150 new homes, shops and a hotel which is also planned for the plot facing Hythe beach.
Although construction will not begin on site until the first quarter of 2022, preparatory work will begin as early as next month.
The on-site testing in March will inform the final design of the substructure works for the development.
Design for the realigned Princes Parade and other services has also commenced, says Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC), which is behind the project.
The authority has appointed BAM Construction to carry out the work - the same firm who worked on Dover Leisure Centre.
Cllr David Monk, leader of FHDC, said: "We've long held ambitions to replace our popular but old and tired swimming pool in Hythe.
"Improving physical and mental wellbeing is one of our key priorities for the next three years as part of our commitment to positive community leadership in our new Corporate Plan.
"Back in 2012, Princes Parade - a former municipal waste tip - was identified as the preferred location for this development.
"There have been years of careful deliberation, public consultation and painstaking preparation involved in this project.
"We think the residents of Hythe and the wider district deserve a new swimming pool and leisure facilities fit for the 21st century.
"I'm delighted that this project is finally becoming a reality and I look forward to watching this community asset take shape."
The battle to save land at Princes Parade - a beauty spot and popular walking site - has been long-fought and the proposal has been subject to years of criticism, objections and protests.
That battle came to a head at the end of 2020 when action group Save Princes Parade (SPP) lost their appeal at Judicial Review to stop the development going ahead, having previously called the scheme ‘unlawful’.
Over the years protesters have also called the project ecologically risky, harmful to wildlife and not financially viable.
But FHDC has stood by its decision to build there, which was first proposed in 2012, with the plans approved in 2019.
BAM Construction manager Daniel Brenchley said: "We have exactly the right experience having delivered leisure facilities in coastal positions around the country and with our civil engineering heritage especially in a marine environment.
"We know that working considerately is extremely important and we're committed to using our time here to help people with local career development through jobs, orders and training.
"We will be working with our supply chain and local agencies to create new construction jobs here which will be advertised through local employment vehicles such as Job Centre Plus.
"We're actively looking at training plans with our supply chain partners for developing skills and training opportunities too."
BAM has committed to hosting more than 340 hours of apprentice and trainee training time, which will create opportunities for people in the area.
For more information, visit folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/princesparade