Thames Gateway Kent
On 8 October, it was confirmed that a £2bn tourist resort is planned for Swanscombe Peninsula, between Gravesend and Dartford, creating 27,000 jobs. Development firm London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH) has been set up to spearhead the project and has signed a deal with Hollywood film giant Paramount. The entertainment complex will feature Europe's largest indoor water park, theatres, live music venues, attractions, cinemas, restaurants, event space and hotels. It is estimated that planning permission will take 18 months, with the theme park due to open in 2018.
Dartford's Core Strategy was adopted in September 2011 and consultation on a Preliminary Community Infrastructure Levy Schedule took place in May 2012. Work is progressing on a Development Management DPD and a Supplementary Planning Document on the Northern Gateway was adopted in April 2012 and a Parking Standards SPD in July 2012.
In Dartford town centre, one of twelve successful pilots for the Portas Project, the Lowfield Street application for a mixed use development is being considered by the council and a Sunday market has been started to increase footfall.
Land Securities has engaged a development partner in bringing forward a mixed use development at Eastern Quarry. In August 2012 a deal between ministers, councillors and developers was announced, confirming the first phase of 1,500 homes is due to complete in December 2013. As part of the plans, around £116m is to be spent on transport infrastructure.
An outline application was approved in June 2012 for 'Dartford Gateway', a mixed-use development of 950 to 1,050 residential units, office, retail and food and drink. Construction of the homes starts soon. Other sites at the Northern Gateway are progressing, with employment space created at The Base, residential development on a former paper mill and a further large site is being marketed.
Two further phases of The Bridge at Dartford have commenced. Eventually it will comprise 1,500 homes, a community hub and science park all served by Fastrack.
Refurbishment and conversion of Stone House Hospital to residential use with additional new homes in the grounds is underway and being successfully marketed.
Consultation took place in 2011 on the Growth Scenarios and Core Strategy. The Publication Stage Core Strategy has a requirement for 4,600 homes for 2011-2028 averaging 271 dwellings a year. This is less than South East Plan requirements but enables delivery of jobs and housing.
Lafarge obtained consent for the import of aggregates at Wharf 42 at the former Northfleet Cement Works and export of tunnel spoil from Crossrail. It has enabled the reinstatement of the rail connection to the North Kent line and will allow additional rail freight in future. The spoil will be used at an RSPB reserve at Wallasea Island, Essex.
Christian Fields redevelopment continues into phase three. The 400 new houses, managed by Moat housing association are proving popular and the project's social benefits have brought the community together.
In 2012, a 40m long pontoon off the Grade II* listed Town Pier was opened enabling visitors to reach Gravesend by river, the Pier's original function. It has attracted many vessels
for their summer visits to the River Thames.
Gravesend Skate Park opened to complement attractions in the Riverside Leisure Area and the new Cyclopark.
The 20-year regeneration plan is on course to deliver major changes and improvements to the largest conurbation in the south east.
Rochester Riverside's first phase of affordable housing is underway and a new Skills and Employment Centre has begun to create jobs and apprenticeships for local people. Medway City Estate has expanded with 600 companies now providing over 6,000 jobs.
A real difference is being made in Chatham with the new bus station and at Chatham Docks, where outline plans have been approved for 900 homes, office space, two hotels and conference facilities.The £650m Chatham Waters development is due to commence late 2014 and is expected to create 3,500 jobs.
Strood Academy has been completed, one of three new flagship academies costing £70m with work also underway at Bishop of Rochester Academy and Brompton Academy.
Medway Park is an £11m regional centre of sporting excellence. It has established itself as a venue for national and international events, twice hosting international modern pentathlon competitions including an Olympic qualifier. It also hosted the British Transplant Games in August 2012.
Medway Innovation Centre was recently awarded the Business Innovation Centre quality mark and became part of the European Business Network – the only one in the south east outside London.
Medway Council has invested over £10m in local businesses. The Partners for Growth scheme has offered loans and grants to more than 220 businesses securing over 2,700 jobs. Employ Medway has helped over 800 people get work and the council has invested over £200,000 in apprenticeships, helping 200 young people begin their careers.
Sittingbourne and Sheppey together form a major commercial centre, with one of the foremost concentrations of engineering and manufacturing in the Gateway.
A £45m investment in new roads has improved access and increased the range of sites for investors. Sittingbourne Northern Relief Road, opened in 2011, has relieved congestion in central Sittingbourne, opened up development sites north of the town and improved access to the Eurolink business area. This provides the prospect of further growth and a significant concentration of commercial occupiers.
March 2012 saw the opening of a 7,432sqm (80,000sqft) facility, by Hamdon Gate for Abbott UK, adding to the existing 280 occupiers employing an estimated 6,500 people at Eurolink.
Rushenden Link Road now provides access from the A249 to the Queenborough and Rushenden regeneration area where 2,000 houses, social, leisure, community facilities, school, marina and 180,000sqm (1,937,503sqft) of new employment space is planned. Phase 1 preparatory works are due.
Peel Ports' deepwater port at Sheerness has been nominated as one of four designated Centres for Offshore Renewable Engineering (CORE) and is seeking to become a major manufacturing hub for the offshore turbine industry.
The consortium, Spirit of Sittingbourne, has been selected to regenerate the town centre, with agreements concluding by autumn 2012. Proposals include a new cultural quarter, multi-screen cinema, music/performance venue, associated retail/leisure uses and a civic quarter providing a new council building along with library and community facilities.
A new Morrison's supermarket at the former Sittingbourne Paper Mill site is planned to open in spring 2013. Permission has also been granted for a major retail led development in Sittingbourne at Milton Creek with a new bridge linking the two.
Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne is undergoing a programme of upgrades, re-fits and new construction work ahead of a major extension. The Park, home to 63 tenants and more than 1,300 employees, has recently invested in operational upgrades and provided new laboratory space for both existing tenants and Flow Chemistry Solutions, a Pfizer spin out.
At Faversham, the recent development of the Eurocentre site provides a mix of new office and industrial space and ongoing commercial developments.