Why Westenhanger Castle purchase by Folkestone & Hythe District Council will not come before Council for discussion.
On the 14th Nov 2018 Cabinet discussed Report Number C/18/44. It was made clear in this report that
further purchases should be made to facilitate the development of the garden town and to secure the land / properties. It should be appreciated that the majority of properties will not be needed by the council for 8 – 10 years, nevertheless it is considered that authority should be given for officers to acquire appropriate land and buildings
To enable the council to secure the land it needed and to enable the project to proceed, it was estimated the cost would be in the region of £10 million pounds over what had already been approved. It allowed for any unforeseen additional land or property that the council might need to acquire to deliver the project.
Consequently it was recommended by Cabinet that the council be requested to authorise additional borrowing for £10 million. On the 28th Nov 2018 (Agenda Item 56) Full Council approved the borrowing of £10 million by a vote of 24 for, 4 against and 0 abstentions.
Now as you may have heard, Folkestone & Hythe District Council Council, as of 22/08/19 have agreed to purchase Westenhanger Castle for approx £2.9 million pounds from it’s present owners G Forge Limited. As of 08:06:59 (22/08/19) the land registry deed K767764 and the three other title deeds were suspended, meaning a deal had been reached and an exchange of ownership is imminent. However, it is known the Council paid £2,900,000 on 16 August 2019 for the land in K767764, K858188, K894615 and K618004 which makes up the site known as Westenhanger Castle.
Westenhanger Castle falls within the overall boundary of the potential Otterpool Park development, but there are no doubt some who’ll be pendantic and say it does not. In short they’d be wrong as the maps from the outset have always shown in inside the boundary.
F&HDC Corporate Director John Bunnett & Andy Jarrett Chief of Strategic Development Projects inspecting the Council’s latest acquisition
So the acquisition of Westenhanger Castle does NOT have to come before full council for sign off, as the spending of the money had already been agreed on the 28th Nov 2018. Opposition Cllrs can whinge all they like, but they had the opportunity at the last Audit & Governance meeting (30 July 2019) not to sign off the accounts for 2018/19, as there was a material misstatement of £6 million. However, Cllr Berry (Con), P. Martin (Con), Prater (Lib Dem) & Whybrow (Green) signed them off. Cllr Field (Lab) abstained. If the four Cllrs who voted to sign off the accounts had not done so, this would have had repercussions about spending 18/19 budgets in 19/20. However it was not to be.
14 Acres Westenhanger Castle Site
Mr J Forge the present owner of the Westenhanger Castle for a little while longer is by some held in great esteem. If one casts ones mind back to the Lorry Park which was to be built at Stanford, The Department for Transport started a compulsory purchase scheme on a discretionary basis for residents whose properties abutted the site. It also identified that Westenhanger Castle—a business run as a venue for events and weddings—would also be blighted by the building of the lorry park and therefore should qualify for compensation. Talks along those lines were progressing but were stopped when a judicial review application against the building of the lorry park was submitted by Westenhanger Castle – John Forge and supported by two other entities—Stanford Parish Council and Henry Boot plc. As we know the opposition against Judicial Review by the Dept of Transport was ditched in Nov 2017.
In Sept 2018 the owner of Sandgate Escarpment – Mr John Forge of Westenhanger Castle was to sell the land to Sandgate Parish Council. However at the eleventh hour this fell through due to Mr Forge finding a buyer willing to pay a higher price.
Is there anybody out there prepared to offer Mr Forge more than £3 million for Westenhanger Castle? If it is still possible to do so, would you kindly contact him asap. His details are T: 01303 261 086 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shepwayvox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent
This is phase 1 land, directly benefitting the Tory donors.
It’s a shame they haven’t got enough money to cut grass and sweep the roads rather than spend taxpayers money on this property.
They’ll build the new council office’s out there, hence the purchase. It’s only a matter of time
This is an ‘interesting’ purchase by FHDC – its clearly a gem in the area and an important property locally. Money is ‘ cheap’ at present, so hopefully FHDC have made a good deal – in my opinion its better than a Middle East, Russian or Chinese owners
Have they actually stated what they want to use this building for?
Not yet. We’re sure they have a plan, probably a cunning one at that.
I thought the Green Party was going to make a change in policies, but it seems that nothing has changed still doing things before a full council meeting.