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Have you got a question about Otterpool Park Garden Town? Find the answers to the most frequent questions here, or contact us at community@otterpoolpark.org.

A garden town is a new settlement that offers high-quality homes, jobs and community facilities and services in an attractive, landscape-led setting. It provides everything people need for a new community to thrive – including schools, medical centres, green space, public transport, new roads, community centres and shops – to create a well-connected community with the health and happiness of its residents at its core.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council, as a local planning authority, is responsible for making sure that enough homes are provided for all its residents. To address the future housing needs in the district, 14,600 new homes will need to be built between 2014 and 2037. At the moment, the area has completed or has plans for, some 8,000 homes – leaving a deficit of 6,600 up to 2037. Homes will be needed beyond this date too. As landowner at the site, the council can help to provide a solution to the housing crisis locally.

The site sits to the south of the M20 and west of junction 11 and stretches from the village of Lympne to the south to Barrow Hill in the west. It covers around 765 hectares and includes the former Folkestone Racecourse, Newingreen and Westenhanger village and station. Existing communities nearby include Stanford and Sellindge. Larger towns in this area of the county include Ashford, Hythe and Folkestone.

There are a number of restrictions on where development can take place in the area – much of the district sits in the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and large areas are at risk of flooding. A report by AECOM also found that other areas of the district don’t have the capacity to make a significant contribution to growth, based on reasons including environment, lack of infrastructure and flood concerns. Otterpool Park is a great location that is ideal for a garden town.

The area is close to the motorway, has an existing railway station and is large enough to be able to create a settlement that has plenty of space for residents to live, work and enjoy a range of leisure facilities. It is close to the Channel Tunnel and the Kent coast is minutes away.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s Local Plan identifies Otterpool Park as a strategic development site. You can find more information about the Local Plan here. https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/planning-policy/adopted-development-plan.

Outline planning permission for Otterpool Park was granted on 4 April 2023.

Folkestone & Hythe District Council has found that there simply are not enough brownfield sites in the area to provide all the extra homes that are needed, although as much as possible is being used. On the basis of the current rates of these sites, they can only provide for 1,000 homes between 2014 and 2037.

By building all the homes the area needs in one place, the development can also include all the roads, schools, utilities and health services that are needed by the residents.

This means much less pressure on existing services in villages and towns which are in themselves becoming increasingly crowded.

Also, brownfield sites can be so scattered that it is hard for the council to provide infrastructure to support them. Many of the existing brownfield sites in the area are already being developed.

The planning application is for 8,500 homes, but the master plan takes up to 10,000 homes into account, setting the framework for longer-term growth and designing the community as a whole. The planning application sets out plans for how these 8,500 homes – and supporting facilities and services – will be built out in phases. Much of the detail will therefore come forward in subsequent phases, with each phase requiring permission for the detail to be approved by the Council, in consultation with stakeholders and the local community.

The project is awaiting planning approval and, if granted, will begin in a phased way over a period of around 30 years.

We want Otterpool Park to be a garden town for everyone and to provide a wide mix of homes for people of all needs and aspirations. This will include flats and small houses for first-time buyers, family homes and homes for people who are retired. There will be homes for rent and to buy, as well as opportunities for self-build.

The design of the homes will be guided by design principles and the master plan. Design codes will also play a part, influencing materials used, range of house types and considering local character.

It is unlikely that homes will be launching in the next year, but we’ll be happy to contact you as soon as plans have progressed to that stage.

Please get in touch via our contact us page.

There is 67,000sqm GEA of Education and Community floorspace (Class E&F) within the development specification to include schools, nurseries and creches, health centres, places of worship and other community uses such as libraries and community centres.

As this is the outline application stage (Tier 1), this broad allocation allows sufficient flexibility to deliver the space as required. Further work will be undertaken at Tier 2 (design codes and phase level masterplan) and Tier 3 (Reserved Matters) stages to establish the most appropriate scale and mix of community uses.

Minimum sizes and triggers for essential facilities will be agreed (and legally binding) as part of the Section 106. This will include schools, nurseries, health centres and essential local community uses such as hall space. Where appropriate, this will also include capital budget that will be provided by the LLP for building facilities.

Where the LLP is to deliver community facilities directly (or provide capital budgets to do so) and this requirement is secured in the S106, these need to be limited to community facilities that meet the regulation 122 tests – indicating their necessity and appropriateness in scale and kind to the impacts of development.   Requirements in addition to this are not lawful.  This means that some facilities or services that are funded by public authorities (councils, NHS) and are related to general needs of the population, rather than specific impacts of the development,  cannot lawfully be funded through Section 106.

Other facilities can and will be brought forward outside the Section 106 in partnership with a range of public, private and charitable sectors and the flexible approach to the parameters will facilitate this.  The LLP will make land and leases/buildings available for a wide range of tenants and expects to play an active role in securing tenants that contribute to both the social and economic prosperity of OP.

KCC provided a projected child yield for new development i.e. the average number of children of each age expected to be living in each home, building up over time as the development is delivered. These figures were used to estimate the expected demand for education facilities and as a starting point for the number of school places required. As there is still a level of uncertainty around the exact number of children, flexibility has been built into the masterplan so higher demand can be met if needed.
While off-site places will be needed in the earliest years of the development (when there will not be enough children on site to sustain a new school), as soon as practical school places will be on-site for both primary and secondary and in the long term there will be enough places on-site to meet Otterpool’s education needs without children travelling off-site (although some may chose to in any case, and parental choice allows this).
A monitor and manage approach is proposed to ensure the right number of school places are delivered at the right time as the community grows.

Each of the primary schools proposed (up to seven schools) will have an integrated or co-located nursery, and up to a further eight additional nursery settings will be located throughout the development in commercial or community premises if required.
Nurseries can operate from a wide range of potential settings and the LLP will make land and/or buildings available for these occupiers and will (if required) undertake targeted marketing to find suitable tenants.

Primary Education
The Development is likely to generate primary education demand of 10.6 forms of entry (FE). Flexibility for up to 14 FE has been included within the masterplan. Up to seven 2-3 FE primary schools are proposed on sites up to 2.6ha. The majority of schools are likely to be 2FE, however the 2.6 ha sites allow flexibility to accommodate 3FE if needed.
Land and capital cost for all primary schools on-site will be provided by the LLP. Triggers for land drawdown, servicing and payment will be legally binding.

Secondary Education
The Development is likely to generate secondary education demand for 10.7 FE. Flexibility for up to 14 FE has been included within the masterplan. Two secondary school sites are proposed – a 10.5 ha site for an 8 FE school (with flexibility to be 10 FE although this is not the preferred option), and a 6.4 ha site to be safeguarded for a second school (6FE) if needed.
It is likely that at least 2-3 FE of secondary provision will also be required off-site as either a temporary or permanent expansion of an existing school(s) as the minimum viability size for a secondary school is about 4FE. If this is needed, contributions will be made towards off-site provision.
Land and capital cost for all secondary schools on-site will be provided by the LLP. Triggers for land drawdown, servicing and payment will be legally binding.

Sixth Form
The Development is likely to generate demand for up 240-250 sixth form places. Sixth form provision will be made in line with a retention rate of 75-80%, meaning up to 360 sixth form places will be provided at an 8FE school, up to 270 places in a 6 FE school and up to 450 places in a 10 FE school. The exact number of places will therefore depend on the scale of secondary provision.
Land and capital cost for sixth form provision as part of secondary schools on-site will be provided by the LLP. Triggers for land drawdown, servicing and payment will be legally binding.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)
The Development is expected to generate demand for up to 75 additional special school places. The Development will provide up to 80 SEN places to meet the full demand arising from the Development. This will either be part of a co-located primary and secondary school or standalone on-site.
Land and capital cost for SEN provision on-site will be provided by the LLP. Triggers for land drawdown, servicing and payment will be legally binding.

The NHS has suggested that for the whole of Otterpool Park (10,000 homes) an estimated 1,500-1,750 sqm GIA will be required for general practice services providing for up to 24,500 registered patients. And an additional space would be required to provide wider community-based health services which could for example include specialist clinics, testing services and physiotherapy.

The masterplan allows sufficient space for these services to be delivered. The precise format is flexible but is likely to include a building for primary medical care (general practice) in the town centre. In order to retain flexibility, three other smaller sites have been illustratively identified for potential community floorspace, which could include healthcare.

There is also a very large amount of flexible E class floorspace within the masterplan which could be used for a wider range of NHS, private, local authority or charitable healthcare provision.
The LLP is in talks with NHS, county and district stakeholders and how best this space can be designed, built and operated to address issues around phasing and to capture the significant potential benefits of service integration.

The S106 will include minimum, legally binding, levels of capital funding and/or built area to be delivered for primary healthcare, including the terms under which land will be leased and managed (or a process by which that decision will be made).
Additional floorspace may be delivered outside the requirements of section 106 in partnership with the NHS or other public or private providers.

Up to 8,500sqm of leisure space including a sports pavilion and indoor sports hall is proposed, and 12 hectares of playing pitches are proposed which equates to 0.6 ha per 1,000 people.

It is also proposed that sports facilities on school sites will be made accessible for community use outside of school hours. We know that the education team at Kent has reservations about being able to secure this, and we acknowledge that these reservations are fair.

However we believe we can, through appropriate legal clauses, partnership working and engagement, secure this community use in perpetuity and will proactively work with all parties, and the DfE if necessary, to achieve this. These would be secured through Community Use Agreements (and any other legal agreement appropriate to the context and agreed by the parties).

Up to 87,500 sqm GEA of employment floorspace (use class E and B2), 29,000 sqm GEA of retail and related uses (E and Sui Generis) and 8,500 sqm GEA of leisure floorspace (E and F) is planned within the OPA area, in addition to hotel, community uses and services for housing which would also create jobs.

Home and flexible working would be supported and promoted – especially through the provision of suitable places to work and meet informally as part of the non-residential offer – and is expected to accelerate as part of a strategy to reduce the need to commute.

The proposals will support approximately 8,605 headcount jobs, equivalent to 6,860 FTE jobs, over half of which are projected to be in office and light industrial jobs, based on the floorspace parameters proposed. The remaining employment is expected to be in retail and leisure, hotels, recreation and community, and in a wide variety of other sectors.

Employment is expected to also be created during construction. While we haven’t quantified this at this early stage, the impact will be large and positive given the scale of the project and its longevity.

The masterplan proposes one primary employment district to provide a profile and critical mass for the new hub. This would provide a strategic employment function as well as serving the new development. This hub is proposed to be located close to Westenhanger Station to maximise the benefits of connectivity to the rest of the region (through both rail and road) and hence makes it an attractive location for people to work and businesses to locate.

“Creative” is one of the key pillars of the Otterpool vision, and the LLP will be actively seeking opportunities to support creative and cultural employment on-site (while being mindful of being complementary to, rather than displacing, these activities from other centres, particularly Folkestone).

The community facilities and services will also support a substantial amount of employment, especially in education and healthcare. Estates’ management, retail, leisure, supported housing/care will all also support employment (and these sectors particularly attract a local labour catchment).

Healthcare employment is a particularly sensitive issue locally – as GPs and social care providers are struggling to recruit. The LLP is already building partnerships with the Integrated Care Board to understand the issue and investigate ways to tackle it, especially taking advantage of the new medical education programmes at Kent and Medway Medical School (Canterbury University) to encourage local talent to learn and stay in the area.

Levels of demand from different non-residential uses will be established as part of the masterplan development at Tier 2 to ensure the town centre and commercial areas are appropriate to the scale of residential development and its long term success, and that the development complements rather than completes with other locations in Folkestone and Hythe District.

Employment space delivery will be incremental, coming forward over time as Otterpool becomes established as a place, and responding to market demand.

The LLP will be in a unique position to take a district-wide view of the economic context and be closely informed by the district’s wider economic strategy as the development evolves, helping to ensure that prosperity at Otterpool is not at the expense of other parts of the FHDC or Kent.

The LLP will agree to targeted marketing campaigns for specific types of tenant where these align with the joint objectives of the LLP and FHDC.

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