SEEDA Announces Major Funding Package For St James' Site Redevelopment

Tuesday, 30 January 2007
The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has agreed a grant of £7.5 million to assist Dover District Council in the comprehensive redevelopment of the St James area of Dover Town Centre in Kent, a key gateway to the South East of England.

A masterplan has been created for this part of Dover which exploits its full potential by providing stronger links to the town centre, improving public open space and car parking space, whilst creating 75 new homes, a hotel and a major new supermarket.

The funding enables the town to achieve high environmental standards, with the use of materials appropriate to this historic centre, which will be sourced locally where possible. SEEDA will work with partners to achieve excellent design quality, as well as wider regeneration benefits, responding to the iconic relationship with Dover Castle above.

The scheme will address local problems of high unemployment and economic dependency on the Port, diversifying the attractiveness of the town centre economically and providing a range of jobs. Increasingly traders in Dover Town Centre have suffered a significant loss of business in recent years due to a number of major retailers relocating to the outskirts of the town.

SEEDA's Chief Executive, Pam Alexander, said: "We are committed to the regeneration of coastal towns in the South East. We look forward to working with partners to create a vibrant, sustainable future for the St James area as a place for residents and visitors to live, work and spend quality leisure time.

"This is an exciting, extensive regeneration programme which will take time, but we are confident that residents will quickly see a marked difference in the area and the role it plays in the town."

SEEDA's grant will be used to help acquire key sites in the regeneration area so that the project can go ahead. Dover District Council has also committed £750,000 to the project and has agreed to contribute land worth £500,000. Kent County Council is contributing £500,000 to the scheme and national regeneration agency English Partnerships has expressed its intention to invest in the redevelopment of the St James area as well as the wider regeneration of Dover.

Chairman of Dover Pride and KCC Cabinet Member for Regeneration Roger Gough said: "The St James' area is a historically important part of the town. I am naturally pleased that SEEDA have been able to make this significant contribution to the area's redevelopment with the support of its local partners.

"It is good that things are changing for the better in Dover. Elsewhere we are holding a public exhibition of improvement plans for the area around Dover Priory Station in early February. I would encourage residents to visit the exhibition at Dover Discovery Centre and to let us know their views."

Dover District Council secured a joint venture development partner for the area, Bond City Limited, in 2003. A planning application was submitted in 2005, supported by SEEDA.

Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said: "This is excellent news for the district and shows that Dover's regeneration is firmly on SEEDA's agenda, as well as English Partnerships and KCC's. The financial contributions from SEEDA and our other partners have the potential to move this development onto another phase of improvement and opportunity for Dover when the planning processes are complete. The opportunity to reshape the commercial centre of Dover has taken another major step forward."

It is likely that construction work on the site will begin in mid-2008.

The St James' regeneration project is part of the Dover Pride Regeneration Strategy, a multi-agency project to redevelop the whole of this key coastal town. Partners include Dover District Council, Dover Harbour Board, Kent County Council, SEEDA, the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), Business Link Kent, Learning and Skills Council for Kent and Medway, Dover Chamber of Commerce, East Kent Partnership and the London Fancy Box Company.

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