Folkestone Seafront Development gets curiouser and curiouser says Alice
Updated 05/02/21 07:10am
Here’s a curious thing.
The reserved matters planning application for the first building (Plot B) of the Folkestone Seafront Development Y18/1252/FH (owned by multi-millionaire Sir Roger De Haan) was approved with conditions on 17 January 2019. These conditions included:
“Condition 2: No work above slab level shall take place until samples of the materials to be used in the construction of the external surfaces of the building hereby permitted have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The samples shall include but not be limited to:
i. Recycled glass dash façade
ii. Galvanised steel balustrades and railings
iii. Anodized aluminium frames
iv. Typical window details The development shall be carried out in accordance with the previously approved details and be retained as such thereafter.
To ensure the satisfactory appearance of the completed development and in the interests of visual amenity.”
The decision notice defines “slab level” as “the lowest level of the building which comprises the car parking level.” We believe slab level to mean ground level in this instance. It is common for conditions to impose a complete restriction on work. However, allowing for work that isn’t “above slab level” means the developer can commence work on foundations whilst the conditions are being discharged.
Conditions 3, 4 and 6 also require a detailed layout and location plan of a permit holders only zone for the on-street parking of 29 vehicles, a landscaping maintenance schedule and a detailed biodiversity plan to be submitted and approved before work takes place above slab level. Furthermore, condition 7 requires facilities for construction vehicle loading/unloading and turning to be provided in accordance with condition 28 of outline planning permission Y17/1099/SH. Application 21/0140/FH/CON was only submitted on 25 January 2021, thus has not been signed off. Although there were three non-material amendment applications (including one for additional rooms at roof level), there do not appear to be any other planning applications for approval of the other conditions, nor are there any documents uploaded under Y18/1252/FH, although application Y19/0050/FH for condition 28 was submitted in January 2019 and approved for Plot B on 8 April 2019.
A non-material amendment application, 20/0567/FH/NMA, was filed on 28 April 2020 for:
“Non-material amendment to condition 2 of planning application Y18/1252/FH, to include reference to glazed tiles or bricks, and change trigger point for submission of details.”
This application requested the change of wording of the condition so that the first material read “glazed tiles or bricks” instead of “recycled glass dash façade”. The Planning Officer found this acceptable, as it was considered to be a more durable material. However, he had slight concerns about the rewording of the condition to:
“Prior to the relevant part no work shall take place until…”
This, he felt, needed clarification, so reworded the amendment to:
“For each parcel of works no development above foundation level shall take place until…”
The material was changed to “brick, or glazed tile façade”.
Unfortunately, whilst this NMA is available separately, it was not uploaded as an amended decision notice to the Y18/1252/FH files section so we initially missed this point.
So even given the NMA, how is it possible that the developer has not only completed that work to slab level [in late spring early summer] but gone well above that permitted level without submitting the documents required to continue? Have Folkestone & Hythe District Council not noticed the large building on the seafront? Was the developer not informed by the applicant to stop at slab level?
According to Section 187 A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides for enforcement of a planning condition by the breach of condition notice. The breach does allow the Council to bring a prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court for the offence of contravening a breach of condition notice. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine not exceeding “level 3” on the standard scale (currently £1,000). However, we strongly suspect the Council will not bring a prosecution. Even if they did, the fine would probably not worry the developer, as they have rather deep pockets.
Also let’s not forget the Chief Executive of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Dr Susan Priest sat as a director on the Creative Foundation (now Creative Folkestone) with Sir Roger, between 19 April 2007 and 14 Aug 2009.
Oh the Irony of that Chumbawamba video. Great choice. Says it all.
What Balls! What Sass! This team’s got style. The more I read the more I like. Keep it up.
It’s rather worrying the development has been allowed to get to the height it has ,without full compliance with the conditions. It appears the Council planning department do not get of their backsides and go and check, nor understand their own conditions they have laid down.
The a folkestone planning department is about 3 to 4 months behind on its applications and processing, typically.
The information may well have been submitted and is stuck in the approval process
While I do not necessarily agree with all the activities being undertaken under the auspices of Sir Roger, I do wonder what Folkestone would be like without his investment. One doesn’t hear of packs of investors looking at the town.
One rule for the rich and another for the rest of us. Appears we are still living in a feudal society.
The Council wouldn’t dare enforce. Lizette Patching as Enforcement officer for the Council, nor Stuart Peall as the Cabinet Member for enforcement, won’t upset the apple cart.
It is a well known fact that most local authority planning departments struggle with pre-, intra-, or post-construction checks. Despite this it is interesting to see that FHDC is failing to observe what is going on in arguably the most significant building project it has seen for decades. Moreover, this site is within the proverbial ‘stones throw’ of FHDC’s offices.
This does not bode well for Otterpool Park (should it ever happen). Not reassuring at all.