Following our Long Read last month detailing a ‘turning circle’ installed by Hythe Lawn Tennis Club without planning permission, Folkestone & Hythe District Council received an application on 7 April from club secretary Hilary Casey, which was validated on 27 April as 21/0753/FH, which included simple hand-drawn plans, some before and after photos and letters explaining why permission had not been sought from club chairman Gareth Coombes-Olney and Mrs. Casey.
The justification was essentially that the club sought permission from landowner Hythe Town Council, who had not informed them that further planning permission would be needed. Unfortunately, the application has been removed from the planning website, but did appear in the local Folkestone & Hythe Express on the 5th May 2021.
We can only assume that the Local Planning Authority – Folkestone & Hythe District Council – decided the application was not valid.
So, why was the application invalidated?
According to Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Planning Portal website, a valid application comprises:
Information requested on the standard application form
Mandatory national information requirements, including a design and access statement if one is required
Information specified on an LPA’s local list.
The application form states the developed area is 162.5 square metres but Google Earth’s polygon tool suggests it is around 540 square metres and the plans agree. Despite the large discrepancy, this is unlikely to cause the application to be invalid. But this isn’t the only discrepancy on the form. It says that “the site was a waste area upon which any grass was very poor” and is currently vacant, yet Mrs. Casey stated both on Facebook and our article that “the area of land to the south of the pavilion has ALWAYS been used for car parking and there is photographic proof of this over the years.” How right she is. Six photographs posted on the club’s Facebook page on 3 and 4 April show cars parked on the ‘turning area’, including a red Audi in nearly all the photos.
Why is Hythe Lawn Tennis Club allowing members to park in their ‘turning area’? After all, they stated ‘no’ to adding parking spaces on the application form. Perhaps because they originally called it a “car park extension”?
Of more concern, is the club ticked ‘no’ to whether the site is “within an area at risk of flooding”. The form spells out you must “check the location on the Government’s Flood map for planning”, which shows it is in Flood Zone 3.
The form makes it very clear that:
“If yes, you will need to submit a Flood Risk Assessment to consider the risk to the proposed site.”
Also let’s not forget Cllr Doug Wade (Green) member of the club and former Mayor of Hythe said on the the club’s Facebook page last month
“one big wave & we’re all swimming”
Which some might take as an indication the club is a flood risk zone.
Hythe Lawn Tennis Club did not submit a Flood Risk Assessment, which is mandatory – thus the application submitted by Mrs Casey for Hythe Lawn Tennis Club was invalid and withdrawn from Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s planning portal.
It is interesting to note that previous applications Y08/1129/SH and Y09/0094/SH, for which the agent was Mrs Casey, ticked the ‘yes’ box regarding the Flood Risk Assessment but none were ever submitted.
How could the then Shepway District Council approve the clubhouse and storage shed construction without aFlood Risk Assessments, when they are mandatory if the application is situated in a flood risk zone?
Applications Y12/0593/SH and Y12/0892/SH both had Hilary Casey as agent and, along with Y13/0856/SH, all had the ‘no’ box ticked regarding being in a flood risk zone.
Has Mrs Casey suffered memory loss since 2009?
Considering Mrs Casey was agent for several applications, a position that requires familiarity with planning regulations, yet appears to have forgotten the club is in a Conservation Area (the phrase not appearing in the retrospective submission at all) and Flood Risk Zone, it may well be the case.
Speaking of conservation, the application form states there are no trees or hedges on or near the proposed development site. Had the application been filed before work began, a hedge would still have been present. There are further hedges and trees on and surrounding the land leased to the club by Hythe Town Council. As such the Council may have required the club undertake a Tree Survey.
The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 make it very clear that a Hedgerow Removal Notice was required prior to any work beginning. This notice had to have been received “from the owner of the hedgerow”, which was Hythe Town Council. They in turn should have gone to the planning department to receive such a notice, according to the hedgerow removal notice guidance on the Council’s planning portal
On Nov 5th 2020, eleven Hythe town cllrs , Greens, Tories, Lib Dem and Independent, granted permission for the hedge pictured above, to be removed by their tenant. This act was not lawful. By granting permission for the hedge to be removed, Hythe Town Council had not filed a Hedgerow Removal Notice with the Local Planning Authority – Folkestone & Hythe District Council. On this point Hythe Lawn Tennis Club has a valid defence as permission had been granted by their landlord, Hythe Town Council, albeit unlawfully it would appear.
Why is a majority Green led council allowing the destruction of a hedge without applying for a Hedgerow Removal Notice, as per the regulations and planning law? Allowing such environmental vandalism – no matter how small – gives rise to the justifiable concern that their ignorance may well lead to more destruction and damage of the environment in and around Hythe.
We fully support any sports club providing activities that promote health and wellbeing. However, no such organisation is above the law and should hire a competent planning consultant if they are unfamiliar with planning regulations, especially in a Conservation Area and Flood Risk Zone.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful