Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins OBE 11 February 2024.
Many local residents on Romney Marsh have raised their concerns with me about the abandoned building site at the location of the former Sands Motel at St Mary’s Bay.
In 2016 Folkestone and Hythe District Council approved plans for 59 houses and 26 apartments which were supposed to be ready by 2019. The owner of the site, Compass Builders Ltd, have subsequently gone into administration and no work has taken place since 2022.
I share the concerns of local residents about this matter. The Sands is not only an eyesore but is in an increasingly poor state of repair and attracting fly-tippers and other unwelcome visitors. Whilst there were reports towards the end of last year that the site was up for sale, people have understandably asked what is going on.
I have raised this with the Chief Executive of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, which has responsibility for local planning and building concerns. The Council has confirmed that members of its Building Control team have visited the development to investigate the reported concerns about the state of the buildings and the safety of the site. However, in this case, given there are no current building works taking place, the council’s power is limited as long as any damage to the buildings has occurred within the boundary fence of the current site.
It is hoped that the receivers who are managing the liquidation of Compass Builders will soon find a new company to take it on and complete the works. The Council will of course work with new owners to ensure that any future works are safely completed. They will also ensure that local councillors and the parish council are kept informed of any developments.
Bathing water quality
I am also concerned with recent reports about the bathing water quality in St Mary’s Bay and Littlestone.
I have discussed this with the Environment Agency which is responsible for monitoring water quality and investigating any decline in standards. They believe that the problem is being caused by contamination getting into the drainage ditches on Romney Marsh that discharge at St Mary’s Bay and Littlestone. This could be coming from a faulty connection on a domestic property and from agricultural activity on the Marsh.
I have asked the Environment Agency for an update on their investigation and hope to be able to report back with more information soon. This issue is not related to storm discharge at sea of wastewater, but a more localised problem. This is also why the water quality and other nearby locations like Dymchurch, remains sufficient. Sea water quality at Hythe and Sandgate is also rated as excellent.
Get Active Strategy
On 26th January the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced further investment into community sport as part of its Get Active Strategy. These funds are designed to improve the quality of local facilities and support more people getting involved in organised sports. As part of this announcement, I was pleased to see that just over £4,500 was awarded to the football club Grasshopper Juniors FC, at the Marsh Academy in New Romney, to help fund new goalposts and floodlights.