There has been a high level of interest in our project at Princes Parade to deliver the leisure facilities - including a swimming pool, a wide traffic-free promenade and accessible open spaces - that residents of our district deserve.
Here we answer the most frequently asked questions by residents. This page will be updated as the development progresses.
Our vision for Princes Parade
We have long-held ambitions to replace our popular - but old and failing - swimming pool in Hythe.
The former municipal waste tip was first identified as the preferred location for this development back in 2012. Following years of careful deliberation and public consultation, the scheme was approved by district councillors on 16 August 2018.
We think the district's residents deserve a new swimming pool and leisure facilities fit for the 21st century. The development also includes quality homes to meet local needs, new accessible open spaces, and better access to the canal and beach.
You can read more about our vision for Princes Parade on our website.
We are aware that some local residents don't believe the Princes Parade development should go ahead.
However, the council has agreed to the scheme through a legally sound decision which, although not universally supported, has stood up to robust testing in the courts. A judicial review appeal was refused by the High Court as recently as December 2020.
This project will optimise the development of an underused site at a sustainable location for the benefit of the whole community.
Current works at Princes Parade (March-May 2021)
As part of the ongoing Princes Parade project, exploratory site investigations works are taking place over a five-week period from Wednesday 24 March.
This will help provide information about the make-up of the site and inform the works required to prepare the area for leisure facilities and accessible open spaces which will benefit the whole district.
Please keep away from the site while heavy equipment is being used.
Investigations will involve sampling across the site at varying levels and depths using a number of different methods: mechanical trial pit excavation, window samples and vertical boreholes using cable percussion.
To minimise disruption, a path will be cleared on the site to create a corridor to provide an access to individual work spaces. The vast majority of vegetation cleared for this important work is likely to grow back relatively quickly in the summer months.
Ecology support will be provided before clearance work commences - this will include visual checks for nesting birds.
As heavy equipment is needed for this type of investigation work, there will be some noise coming from the site - although there should not be any vibrations. We would urge people to stay away from the site while this machinery is operating.
Due to the nature of the site, there is a risk of the work generating some odour from the deposited materials for short periods during the first week. This will be very localised and minimised as much as possible by the teams on the ground.
Work will only take place between 8am and 5pm on weekdays. Disruption will be kept to a minimum but we apologise for any inconvenience it might cause.
All operatives are trained and may be required to wear masks and paper suits as a safety precaution as they are working in very close proximity to the excavated material. Any risk to the wider public is very minimal.
Water suppression apparatus will be ready when each excavation commences so any hazardous materials can be dampened down upon being investigated.
Careful consideration with regard to wind direction and lift height of the excavated material will be taken at the point of excavation to minimise exposure.
Each pit will be excavated for a two-hour window in each position and then filled in again. In the short time the area is exposed, plastic sheeting will cover any excavations deemed to have any hazardous materials.
Contractors will not be breaking ground in the first week (w/c 21 March 2021).
Ecology and open spaces
We are committed to creating new habitats for wildlife and there will be new accessible parkland plus a series of open spaces throughout the development further enhancing the setting of the Royal Military Canal for all to enjoy.
We appreciate the importance of natural public spaces for people to experience - both for their physical and mental health - and this development will ensure that the enjoyment of these areas is more accessible to everyone who visits Princes Parade in the future.
Firstly - and most importantly - nesting birds are not being disturbed. Dates regarding the bird nesting season are guidelines.
There was a requirement that those undertaking the work were checking that there were no nests in situ. This work was preceded by a check for nesting birds, as will be the case for all future clearance work.
Both our staff and visiting ecologists undertook visual checks prior to and during the works. No vegetation containing nesting birds was disturbed.
We are confident, following specific advice from our consultants, birds of special status - such as birds of prey, gulls and kingfishers - are not nesting in the areas to be cleared.
Breaking up dense vegetation - including dead trees and invasive weeds - and encouraging more sunlight to reach the northern bank of the canal which, together with the establishment of grassland, will be beneficial for several species.
Vegetation removed in March 2021 comprised of dead trees, brambles, invasive weeds, an invasive species of non-native North American poplar, and particular elderberry trees that were being strangled by ivy.
As with many landscaping changes the area affected may look sparse initially but the less this is disturbed the quicker the new shrub and grassland will be established.
As a council we only use glyphosate where absolutely necessary, and Ecoplugs have been used to stop the regrowth of particular trees on the northern bank of the canal.
There is no risk to residents, pets, or the local environment. According to the Forestry Commission, Ecoplugs "present practically no risk of non-target drift or operator contamination".
An updated version of the document can be read by clicking on the link below. Some of the dates will vary from previous documents.
The ecology method statement - along with other documents relating to the project - was submitted as part of the planning application process.
It can be read by visiting the council's planning portal and entering the reference Y17/1042/SH. You will also be able to find details regarding the height of the leisure centre, flood risk mitigation and other technical information.
As the scheme progresses through its design stages, the procurement routes are completed and the site investigation works are carried out, a clearer financial position will evolve.
A note which sets out the financial breakdown for the decision to progress with the Princes Parade project, as well as the next steps, has been published and can be read below.
Realigning the road
There was a statutory consultation on the stopping up of the road - this was separate from the planning application for the project.
As a result of the delay caused by the unsuccessful judicial review application, work on the Princes Parade road proposal was temporarily halted.
We are now in a position to revisit the consultation and the responses received. The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Transport's office.
This was one of several questions raised at the Leader's Q&A session held on 24 March 2021.
Keeping people updated
We are doing everything we can to ensure residents living near the Princes Parade site are kept updated about any work which may impact on them.
Our efforts include - but are not limited to - letters sent to properties, the use of notice boards, uploading information onto our website and updating the online timeline, social media posts, and informing the local press.
If you have any further suggestions about how to keep residents updated, please email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
As is common practice across local government in this country, we only accept petitions in accordance with the requirements of our constitution.
A petition regarding Princes Parade did not meet that criteria and - therefore - was not able to be submitted for consideration.
You can email your questions and to email@example.com, where it will be considered and addressed on this Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
This project is the result of years of careful deliberation, public consultation and painstaking preparation.
The existing swimming pool site, Nickolls Quarry, The Green and South Road recreation ground have all been mooted as suggestions for a new leisure centre - but none of these alternatives are viable.
Our timeline looks at some of these unsuitable options in more detail.
The Nickolls Quarry site was provided as an option for sports, leisure and community facilities within the s106 agreement with the developer of Martello Lakes.
With the Princes Parade project proceeding, the council will receive a financial contribution instead - and the land will revert back to the developer.
It will be for them to consider the future use of the land although, if they wish to develop it, this would be subject to the normal planning requirement and processes.