You may remember an application being submitted by Folkestone Running Club during Christmas 2018 to build a running track on Cheriton Sports Ground.
18/1617/FH Planning application reference
It should be noted this came a year after both Folkestone Sports Centre Trust’s decision to sell off part of their golf course following Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s announcement they would be stopping the £150,000 a year grant the Sports Centre received in 2020, and the Council considering selling Folkestone Bowls Centre for £750,000.
Pent Valley Leisure Centre also closed in Summer 2017. Whilst the Sports Centre is set to get a revamped ski slope; and a aerial assault course, after the sale, a GoFundMe campaign started when they closed their doors during lockdown, hasn’t even raised 1% of its £250,000 target in the 7 months it has been running. This may leave you wondering how a non-profit community running club can afford to build a running track when other sporting facilities are struggling.
Interestingly, amongst the significant amount of objections was a comment from Furley Page Solicitors in April 2019, on behalf of their client, a neighbour, who were told the applicant, Folkestone Running Club,
“was not aware that the application had been made in their name.”
This would indeed be strange if true. However, the club shared a petition in July 2019 supporting the development that got nearly 800 signatures, which suggests that they were indeed behind it. Perhaps during a pandemic, they’re at an advantage having a wholly outdoor facility. We wish them well with their endeavour.
The application was successful, and work has recently commenced. However, we understand that they have already hit a snag.
The site is listed on Kent County Council’s Historic Environment Record as having several features of archaeological interest, some dating back to the Bronze Age, as well as on the Council’s interactive planning map as having ‘archaeological potential’. Despite it being flagged in the Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment that “archaeological remains of regional significance might be extant within the proposed development area” and the recommendation of “a programme of archaeological watching brief on any groundworks”, the officer’s report DCL/19/14 failed to recommend a condition regarding the watching brief, though it did mention the archaeological potential.
We understand that local residents flagged this with FHDC and KCC after having noticed that not only was the running track area being dug up, but a higher piece of ground that contains the remnants of St. Eanswythe’s Watercourse, which probably dates back to around the 11th-13th Centuries.
The ground has been owned by FHDC since Christmas Eve 2004, when the paid £750,000. The Council agreed a lease with Cheriton Road Sports Ground Trust on 6th July 2015, and runs to the 5th July 2036.
Surely the Council know what lies beneath their field?
The affected part has been part of Cheriton Sports Ground for around 50 years now. The watercourse was cut off in the 1950s, albeit further along the course at Radnor Park.
We understand FHDC have responded by ensuring the watching brief is in place, allowing archaeologists to inspect the site and ensure any heritage features are properly recorded.
However, work has not resumed this week and this is possibly down to the Environment Agency, as it is thought that a live water main might be present in the vicinity of the watercourse.
If this is the case, were a digger to hit it, the developer might not only leave thousands of people without water but could possibly flood the field. And we doubt anyone will want to be running on water.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful