At the Folkestone and Hythe District Council meeting last night, a vote to delay the removal of vegetation from the Princes Parade site until the current Public Inquiry into moving the road has given its verdict was lost by 12 votes to 14.
The motion, moved by Green Group Leader Lesley Whybrow and seconded by Lib Dem Group Leader Tim Prater said:
In order to cap the contaminated land at Princes Parade it will be necessary to remove all the vegetation. Although the reptiles should have been moved to an alternative habitat by then and the badgers will have been excluded and provided with a new sett, this work will nevertheless result in serious harm to the other non protected animals living on the site.
It is therefore vital that this work is not started until the council has all the necessary permissions to begin the development. If the work is carried out prematurely there is a high risk of causing unnecessary death and injury to the animals living on the site as well as the council incurring unnecessary costs.
Therefore this council resolves that:
The vegetation will not be cleared from Princes Parade until the result of the public inquiry into the stopping up of the road is declared and planning permission for the surface water drainage works has been granted."
In seconding the motion, Tim Prater said:
"I'm sure there will be other Councillors speaking on this motion who will reiterate the importance of Princes Parade and our ongoing opposition to the project here.
"However, in my three minutes, I want to tread some different ground, which is about due process.
"This motion simply requires that vegetation is not moved until all necessary consents and permissions are in place. Until the public inquiry is concluded.
"That's the same standard we would expect from any developer in any part of our district.
"And that is the same here. This motion asks that we hold to the same standards as a Council that we as a Council would hope and expect others to hold to.
I imagine every Councillor who has sat on planning committees at District, Town or Parish level can have some sympathy with that.
"Who else has watched a developer clear an area either prior to or in contravention of a granted planning permission, and then use instability, the lack of vegetation or lack of habitats in that area - a problem they caused by clearing the site - as a reason they should get planning permission to develop it?
"It's not illegal. But nor is it right.
"Literally today, this Council has put out a press release about the successful prosecution of one local business who made a change to their shop front without planning permission. We are prosecuting others for not having all the necessary permissions, conditions and agreements in place before doing work. We should be setting an example.
"Whatever way you face on the development of Princes Parade, this is a vote about respecting due process.
"I'm not going to suggest that all Councillors that vote for this motion tonight are against Princes Parade development. But I am going to say that Councillors that do vote for this motion tonight understand and respect due process, and are seeking to hold this Council to the same standards that we should rightly demand of others.
"Please - support the motion."
All Lib Dem, Green and Labour Councillors present, plus Conservative councillors Peter Gane, voted for the motion. Every other Conservative, UKIP and Indpendent Group Councillor voted against.
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