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Development: Westenhanger Castle near Hythe opens its gates and spreads the word on major Shepway developments

Contributed by editor on Jul 16, 2017 - 12:05 PM

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By Susan Carey

Westenhanger Castle was the idyllic setting on a hot summer’s evening, 12 July, for a networking event held by Locate in Kent.

Sarah Poole of Kent Castle Ltd was on hand to welcome guests and show off the facilities for events at Westenhanger.

David Fitzsimmons of Locate in Kent told the guests that LIK was above target for attracting jobs into Kent and Mark Dance, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development spoke about the need to make sure that Kent had new jobs to go with the new homes being built across the county.

The evening included two presentations on local developments including Otterpool Garden Town by Gary Young of Farrells who is leading the masterplanning work.

Susan Carey, Trevor Minter and Jenny Hollingsbee

The land designated for Otterpool Park Garden Town had been heavily forested in Roman times, in Medieval times it was a deer park but was later cleared for farmland and the racecourse. However there are still pockets of ancient woodland that can be preserved and expanded to create part of the publically accessible green space that is an integral part of the garden town concept.

The garden town will also allow the original entrance to Westenhanger castle (from the direction of Sellindge) to be reinstated so that the castle will no longer be hidden from view.

Presentations about Otterpool usually concentrate on the new homes but with a business audience Gary also covered the plans to create a business park alongside the railway line and near the station. In the Q&A that followed he explained how new settlements like Poundbury (the much admired development by the Prince of Wales) had created both new homes and jobs and the same was planned for Otterpool.

David Crump and Trevor Minter  Photo: Susan Carey

This was followed by an update and sneak preview of the development under way at the Folkestone seafront by David Crump and Trevor Minter of the Folkestone Harbour Development Corporation.

The designs for the first new homes maximise space through ingenious use the turn of staircases and differential height of rooms and over 90% of the flats will enjoy sea views. The spoil from the dredging of the harbour is being used to help raise the level of the seafront which has kept all large vehicle movements of soil within the site.

A £5m grant from the Government via the Local Enterprise Partnership and Kent County Council has helped fund the improvement in sea defences and groundwork needed. Trevor also touched on the charitable work done by Sir Roger de Haan including Folkestone’s Cultural Quarter, the Three Hills Sports Centre, the Folkestone Triennial and the work under way for the indoor skateboard and mountaineering centre for young people.

The Boardwalk on the beach at Folkestone  Photo: Susan Carey

Local councillor, Susan Carey said, ‘These presentations brought home just how much is happening in our district and how fortunate we are that unlike so much new development elsewhere they will both enhance the area. Westenhanger Castle is still a hidden gem and the changes for Otterpool Park will make it the landmark it deserves to be.’

Westenhanger Castle is the venue for an open air production of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ on Thursday 20 July by Changeling Theatre. See   for details.

The castle also has afternoon teas as well as being available for hire for weddings and parties.

Top photo: Westenhanger Castle by Susan Carey

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