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NEWS

Seafront Plan Wins Local Authority Approval

Shepway District Council has given outline planning approval to the plan prepared by Sir Terry Farrell for the development of Folkestone seafront. The decision was made by the full Council, reflecting the importance of this development to Folkestone’s future. This is a key step forward and follows three years of extensive public consultation and meticulous planning by a wide range of experts. Securing outline planning permission was a vital step to establish clear design principles and an overall vision for the site. Now that this has been achieved the next stage in the process is to secure interest from potential developers who will be attracted by the seafront’s undoubted potential. This next stage will be largely driven by the prevailing economic climate, and in particular the strength of the housing market. The approach throughout has been governed by the ambition to create a new seafront for Folkestone that significantly enhances the town and provides benefits for its residents and for visitors. Attention to design excellence and the aspiration to realise long term regeneration goals have been central objectives. The plans include public spaces and leisure facilities and will make a major contribution to the attractiveness of Folkestone as a successful place where people can live, work and bring up their children. Folkestone Harbour Company now welcomes contact from development companies that share our ambition, as expressed through the plan commissioned from Farrells. FHC would also like to pass on their thanks to the many people who have been actively involved in the consultations and have been patient with this long, complicated and expensive process. This planning decision is a landmark for the future of the town.

Please see www.folkestoneseafront.com for further details.

Harbour Authority begins Harbour Revision Process

During the public consultation process, the question of future use of the harbour arm was raised on a number of occasions. Folkestone Harbour Company observed that since the cessation of passenger ferry services in 1999, attributed to competition from the Channel Tunnel and increased frequency on routes from Dover, several attempts had been made to reintroduce ferries from Folkestone, but that none of these had proved to be economic or practical. By December 2010 FHC concluded that after many years of disuse, it was time to move on, and alternative uses were actively sought. Although FHC continued to engage with parties expressing an ambition to run ferries none of these parties could produce evidence of financial backing or of economic or operational viability. This was recognised in June 2013 by the Planning Inspector, who, in approving Shepway District Council’s Core Strategy, reported that there is “no strong evidence that there is sufficient likelihood of either (train or ferry services) being delivered within the likely development timescale of this site,” concluding that it was no longer appropriate to make provision for these services in local planning policy.

Consequently a Harbour Revision Order is now being sought to facilitate the broader harbour development.  The HRO is being managed by the Marine Management Organisation, and would formally remove the right to trade for vessels using the harbour arm and change legal powers so that the Folkestone Harbour Board has the right to restrict which vessels can moor along the harbour arm, including cargo and aggregates.   The HRO also makes provision for strengthened flood defences and beach nourishment. Fishing and leisure craft will still be free to use the harbour, and there will be some potential for pleasure cruises and other trips that can be handled within the harbour’s parameters.