We are looking at the possibilities for improving upon the wonderful resource we have at East Cliff. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is one of the most important prehistoric coastal sites in Britain.
The land is managed by the council on behalf of the Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds charity. Current facilities offered include grass tennis courts, a pitch and putt course, a bowls club and a children's play area. But all the facilities are in need of updating.
In particular, the Shepway Play Area Review highlighted the area as having a shortage of play facilities for children and young people. This resulted in the play area being earmarked as a priority in the district's Play Area Strategy 2020 - 2030.
We want to create an area which improves the existing leisure facilities for our residents and visitors whilst enhancing the historical and archaeological setting.
Amongst the ideas that we are looking at are:
- Creating a play area with exciting and challenging play provision
- A way of sharing information about the site's rich heritage and its ecological importance
- Improving accessibility to the nearby Warren and the beach.
Why is a project being considered?
The 2017 Shepway Play Area Review assessed the play provision throughout the district against national standards (FiT standards). Folkestone's Harbour Ward, which includes East Cliff, was identified as having a standard of -0.21, the second lowest score in the district.
Harbour also had the overall lowest average play value score by ward (52.3%) and scored low by percentile of multiple deprivation. In addition, it was highlighted that the ward had no play provision for the 11+ age group.
The subsequent Play Area Strategy, adopted in June 2020, puts in place the tools needed to reduce the play deprivation in the area. The strategy identifies the play area known as "Jock's Pitch" as a strategically important one and is designated in the strategy as a priority play area.
The review and play strategy together with community group engagement has led the council, as trustees of the Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds, to consider what might be possible on the site subject to community consultation and future funding.
The work leading to this stage includes engineering studies to ensure the stability of the land and risk of coastal erosion.
The council with the support of the key stakeholders, including community and resident groups, the White Cliffs Countryside Project, the East Cliff Community Association and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, developed a public consultation, which took place in summer 2022. This captured the critical input from the community and will feed into future proposals.
Any future planning application would also enable members of the community to give their views.
When will a decision be made?
The area is a Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds site and the board of trustees is the Cabinet of the council. To date no approval or decision on any part of a scheme has been given.
No budget has been proposed and the charity, by constitution, needs to be self-sustainable.
Community groups have been looking at ways to secure funding. If you would like to become involved in the project these community groups are a good way to link into scoping and delivering this important community project.
Progress to date
The responses to the summer survey are being collated for analysis and a paper will be prepared for consideration by trustees of the Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds charity.
Survey (online and printed) published to gather views from residents and users about leisure and play facilities at East Cliff.
Feedback from the local community indicated a wide range of views about the future of East Cliff and the leisure facilities. A petition with 950 signatures objecting to a draft plan was received and presented to a full council meeting on 24 November 2021.
At a trustee meeting of Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds charity, also on 24 November 2021, it was agreed that a full public consultation should take place. Views gathered as a result of consultation will be be presented to the trustees.
A draft plan drawn up by a landscape architect and further exploratory work on the cliff area has been carried out, funded by a Kent County Council member grant.
Early discussions with stakeholders including the White Cliffs Countryside Project, the East Cliff Community Association and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Their contributions and the feedback from public consultation will influence the development of a plan to be presented to council members as part of any future scheme.
Page content updated: 26 October 2022