Otterpool Park Update: A brief history of the political parties stance on the development

It is funny how political parties are prepared to do spectacular u-turns. This is true of all parties at national and local level.  

Regarding the Otterpool Park development where outline planning permission has been granted for 8,500 homes on 4 April 2023, and full council must sign off the £80m loan the LLP needs to proceed, all three parties – The Shepway Green Party (SGP), the Folkestone & Hythe Labour Party (FHLP) and the Folkestone & Hythe Lib Dems (FHLD), all used public dissatisfaction to state they were opposed to Otterpool Park between 2016 and 2019. They made promise after promise to stop it, then two out of three have since reneged on their promises. 

The Shepway Green Party have stated the strict requirements from central government for hundreds of new homes to be built in our district – a minimum of 738 new homes per year for the period 2019/20 to 2036/37, is what means Otterpool must go ahead. However, in Dec 2022, the government announced they were scrapping the mandatory house building targets for councils and making them “advisory”.

So what have the SGP, FHLP and FHLDs said about Otterpool Park. Here’s a breif reminder.

On 13 June 2016, the SGP published the fact they were opposed to Otterpool Park

Then in 2020, they published the following:

“We cannot stop Otterpool and it would be dishonest to pretend that we could. Indeed, the honest truth is that we never said we would.” 

Back in June 2020, we made it clear the Shepway Green Party (SGP) flatter to deceive with regards to Otterpool.

Now that’s a U-turn. Also, lets not forget, Cllr Rebecca Shoob has sat on the Otterpool Board since July 2020.

The SGP isn’t talking about scrapping the Otterpool development any longer, it is focusing on the need for the project to be sustainable. As reported today, 10 May 2023, the SGP state:

“Our goal has always been to promote a sustainable approach to planning that prioritises public transport, cycling, and walking, and ensures that new homes are built to the highest environmental standards.”

Once upon a time they were opposed to the development, now they are in favour of it as long as it is sustainable. The whole point of a garden town is that it is sustainable. These have been the guiding principles from the outset.

But it is not only the SGP who have done a spectacular U-turn, The Folkestone & Hythe Labour Party have done so too.

In April 2019, days before the election in May the FHLP stated:

Labour are opposed to the plans for Princes Parade and Otterpool Park. A Labour Council will scrap the plans for both projects immediately.

Then in their 2023 Manifesto FHLP say of Otterpool the following:

Another u-turn by another party who probably make up a Green-Lab coalition in the coming days.

Now regarding the Lib Dems they to stated they were against Otterpool Park, when they said the following on 23 Feb 2017.

That said, the FHLD made it clear that more needs to be known before pressing ahead during the May 2023 election.

We know the LLP has requested the Council increase its loan facility by an additional £80m to £199m to cover peak debt requirements. The current agreed level is £119m -consisting of £44m for land acquisition and £75m for working capital. The additional £80m funding request is comprised of £49m for accelerated land acquisitions and £31m for inflationary cost pressures on infrastructure provision.

The level of funding sought represents a significant undertaking at a scale which has not previously been considered in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), nor Medium Term Capital Programme (MTCP). The increase in the loan facility will require consideration of Cabinet and agreement of the Council with relevant associated documents updated accordingly.

The first time this loan could be signed off by the full Council is, 24 May 2023. Given the SGP and FHLP stance on Otterpool now, as opposed to 2016 and 2017, it is possible the LLP could see the money handed over to them by a potential Green Labour coalition. 

If perchance this is what happens, then it would be clear to us at least, that any future statements by the Greens and Labour would have to be taken with a pinch of salt. 

The Shepway Vox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime







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13 Comments on Otterpool Park Update: A brief history of the political parties stance on the development

  1. Lorraine // May 10, 2023 at 16:05 // Reply

    We got rid of Mr Monk but now it seems we will continue to be unheard in relation to Otterpool, l am disgusted with the Greens and Labour who are backtracking on previous promises to oppose the Otterpool development which will if it goes ahead destroy f & h and surrounds.

    • Well said Lorraine.
      Email your comments to the Greens and Labour offices.I feel exactly the same as you.

    • @Lorraine

      The Greens are no more than a party of NIMBYs who will sell out the Otterpool Park land to protect their own areas and property values. They are prepared to have a rare chalk stream habitat polluted rather than have houses built for locals in their villages. Not the action of true Greens.

  2. If Otterpool goes ahead the new Council should hang it’s head in shame.
    They will have made Monk in to something he never was believable !!

    • @Colin

      They will probably support all the solar farm proposals in view of their fantasy that “sustainable” energy will suffice. Be nice if it would, but it won’t. Perhaps we will get tidal energy platforms built off Hythe seafront!

      • @Neil

        All parties support house building, just different types and configurations depending on their priorities and preferences. However, to switch from a position of objection to support literally overnight tells you everything you need to know about politics.

        Despite this I am very pleased Monk has gone, and I doubt things will get worse.

        Time will tell how the new administration will deal with Monk’s considerable legacy: might be worth asking the local council Tax payers what their priorities are?

  3. The development is to far down the line to stop now. What will the returns be when finished. Do u want them to lose millions and millions of tax payers money. They have to stay with this one and make the best of the Tory deals. Anything they find underhand report to the police. Princess parade can be stopped .

    • @John

      I would say Princes Parade was further down the line than Otterpool. Taxes will remain high to pay back the loans the LLP will extract. The Council can build houses for locals in locals areas, Otterpool Park is not for locals, it is for those who wish to move out of London and commute, although there will be a ghetto area where the poor of Folkestone will be relocated, probably towards the Sellindge end, near the water treatment site.

  4. I hope no-one will be too shocked when Monk is appointed to the board of the LLP.

  5. When will local politicians realise that they are not property developers. I think this will end badly and that the £80m further loan is the first stepping stone to FHDC becoming financially bankrupt. Of this £80m, £31m is for inflationary cost pressures.
    Interest rates rising and inflation staying stubbornly high will mean more money will be needed further down the line.

  6. To fare down the line to stop . Labour and greens will be able to control the build . Maybe new council houses will be built . Give them a chance to look at what the torys have done

    • @John

      Presumably you are not a resident of Sellindge, Stanford, Newingreen, Westenhanger and Lympne who are going to have a 30 year building site forced upon them. It is not too far down the line to be stopped.

  7. Jonathan // May 15, 2023 at 14:57 // Reply

    Ms Shoob knocked on my door to canvass for the May election. I expressed my concern that the unwanted OP project was going ahead, and added that, doing a rough calculation of size (on google earth), it would be roughly half the size of urban Folkestone, (excluding Sandgate, Hythe and Capel). Ms Shoob made no comment at all, and for all of her reaction it was as if she had never heard of it. So to hear that she was on the board is truly shocking.

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