Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boulogne Room - Civic Centre Folkestone

Contact: Kate Clark 

No. Item


Appointment of chairman

The committee must appoint a district / parish councillor to chair the meeting.


Councillor Frank Hobbs was appointed Chairman of the meeting. 


Declarations of interest

Members of the Council should declare any interests which fall under the following categories*:

a) discloseable pecuniary interests (DPI)

b) other significant interests (OSI)

c) voluntary announcements of other interests



Councillor Mrs Jenny Hollingsbee made a voluntary announcement in that she owns two properties nearby to Otterpool Park.  She remained in the meeting during discussions. 



To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2017.

Supporting documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2017 were submitted, approved and signed by the Chairman. 


Otterpool Park Update

A verbal update will be given by Chris Lewis, Planning Advisor. 


Mr Jeremy Chambers, Corporate Director, Strategic Operations informed members that Mr Chris Lewis, Planning Advisor, was unable to attend the meeting and had given his apologies. 


Mr Lewis had provided an update which Mr Chambers read out to the committee, as follows:


The position from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) perspective is as

follows -


1.    The partial review of the Core Strategy Local Plan continues at pace, supported by key evidence base material.


2.    Growth Options Report - this independent assessment  has been completed by AECOM and is published on the link below.


3.    Stage one of the Growth Report identified and assessed 6 character areas in the district against key constraints and opportunities, including landscape. The stage one report found that only the character area in and around J11 of the M20 had potential opportunity for strategic level development.


4.    Stage two of the AECOM report then looked in detail at locations  within the Junction 11 character area. It concluded that the only potential strategic development opportunities are within an area south of the M20 broadly similar (but not exactly the same)  as the expression of interest boundary and possibly  sites to the west, south and east of Sellindge.


5.    The AECOM report considers that the area between the A20 and the railway is suitable for strategic level development and the area to the south of the A20 (which is more visible from the North Downs ridge) is suitable for strategic level development  but with mitigation.


6.    Mitigation south of the A20  probably means lower density and substantial block  planting at an early stage.


7.    The AECOM report recommends significant open space in the area of Westenhanger Castle, around Otterpool Manor and Upper Otterpool and a strategic green space that separates the new settlement from Lympne.


8.    The next step is for the LPA working with its consultants (LUC) to test  more detailed alternatives through the sustainability appraisal process (which is a requirement of local plan policy formulation).


9.    These alternatives will include variations to the boundary of the site for Otterpool Park and whether there is any scope or not for additional development west, south and east of Sellindge either individually or in combination.


10.The planning team are working towards a first public consultation (6 weeks) on the revised consultation (regulation 18) in January 2018.


11.Comments received will then be assessed with a final (regulation 19) consultation later in 2018, prior to a planned submission to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination of the Plan in 2019.


12.At present the evidence is pointing  to  revised Core Strategy  Local Plan containing  policies  for the building of over 7,000 new homes at Otterpool Park for the plan period ending 2037, although a relatively small percentage of this figure could be at Sellindge but this is all subject to the outcome of the  further  testing.


13.With regard to employment the Council have commissioned Lichfields to advise on opportunities for employment uses and sectors. This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Update on Maintenance of Play Areas in the District

A verbal update will be given by Mr Jeremy Chambers, Corporate Director, Strategic Operations.



 Mr Jeremy Chambers, Corporate Director, Strategic Operations provided a verbal update. 


All Shepway District Council/East Kent Housing owned play areas are inspected weekly by ROSPA trained operatives.  Any small faults are fixed on site if the team have the required parts.  If repairs are not able to be carried out on site then parts are ordered and equipment is repaired once the parts are in on a subsequent visit. 


Problems occur when larger pieces of equipment fail and we do not have the budget to replace.  This would result in the equipment being closed off or removed or in the worst case scenario the play area would be closed until a solution is identified.  More thorough six monthly inspections are carried out by trained staff and then an annual inspection is carried out by our insurers. 


The open space and play strategies are still being worked on and drafts for approval will be ready later this year. 


Mr Chambers informed members that the Radnor Park Play area is officially opening on Saturday 22 July 2017.  It is seen as an excellent example of the community coming together, funding and grants for this project have come from different areas. 


Councillors John Heasman and Martin Sweeney are keen for their respective town councils to consider investing and developing play areas. Councillor Sweeney asked if the District Council could provide any help to Lydd Town Council in this respect.  Mr Chambers advised he would contact Mr Andy Blaszkowicz, Head of Commercial and Technical Services.


Councillor Mrs Jenny Hollingsbee advised that Sellindge Parish Council has a decent play area which is maintained by a charity. 




Empty Homes update including MOD/Army properties

A verbal update will be given by Mr Jeremy Chambers, Corporate Director, Strategic Operations.


Mr Jeremy Chambers, Corporate Director, Strategic Operations gave a verbal update as follows:



·         There are approximately 450 long-term empty homes in the district.

·         These are homes that have been empty for 6 months or more.

·         The council focuses its attention on properties where the owner has no active plans in place to bring an empty property back into use.

·         We have a Corporate Target to bring at least 70 long-term empty homes back into use as a result of direct intervention by the council (The target was achieved in 2016/17)

The Council’s Strategy for bringing Empty Homes Back into use:

·         A Corporate Priority for the Council.

·         £1.2m made available by the council over three year period from 2015/16 to provide secured loans in partnership with Kent County Council to assist the owners of Long-term Empty Private Sector Homes back into use (Loans of up to £40K per individual property).

·         Work to give guidance and information to property owners on the best way to bring their property back into use.

·         Enforcement sales.

·         Owners of long-term Empty Homes also have to pay an enhanced level of Council Tax (+50%).


Empty Military Properties


·         These are not recorded on the Council’s residential homes list.

·         No information on long-term empty MOD properties in the district.

·         Happy to explore this further if Committee Members are able to provide further information on this.

Councillor Martin Sweeney is aware there are at least five empty Army houses in Lydd and with respect to housing issues in the town he has written to the Ministry of Defence with a view to their availability for Lydd residents. 


Councillor Sweeney elaborated on the housing problems in Lydd where residents find themselves displaced as far as Dover.  He suggested that the MOD properties could be released into the community to help alleviate this and maybe the District Council and Lydd Town Council could work with the MOD.  It was agreed that this was worth exploring.


Mr Chambers advised Councillor Sweeney to contact Adrian Hammond, Housing Strategy Manager for further discussion. 


Councillor John Heasman enquired if there were any updates on empty retail properties in the District and it was suggested that this could be added to a future agenda for an update by Mrs Katharine Harvey, Head of Economic Development.