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Plans for new seafront go on show

Folkestone seafront

Revised plans for Folkestone harbour and seafront development which go on show today are being described as a "once in a century opportunity".

They include up to 850 homes, a sea sports centre, beach sports area and use of the harbour arm for leisure.

Although no timescale has been set for the multi-million pound project, an outline planning application is expected to be submitted to Shepway council in April next year.

Trevor Minter, of Folkestone Harbour Company, said: "This is a once in a century opportunity and we cannot afford to get it wrong. We are prepared to sit it out until the market is right to start building - the commitment is there.

"We have spent £1 million getting this far. Imagine if we went in now and got it wrong. If you just build what you can afford, you will regret it.

"We are prepared to wait and will not be selling the site on once we have outline planning permission. We want to make a statement about Folkestone being a place of quality."

The plans, by architect Sir Terry Farrell, were launched in May, 2010, and went out to public consultation. The revised plans, said Mr Minter, reflected what was raised then and include the sports areas and leisure use of the harbour arm.

Two options for housing have been drawn up, one for 265 houses and one for 353, both with 500 flats. Each house will have a sea view, parking and garden.

There will also be a 10,000 sq ft commercial or retail area around the flats, which Mr Minter said would be connected with the harbour activities so would not be creating another town centre, and two public squares. The beach will provide a natural sea defence for the houses, he said.Folkestone sea front plans

Picture: Plans for new seafront

The harbour company has consulted sea sports users about what they want to see at the new centre and is looking for operators for that and the beach sports area. If outline planning permission is granted next year, the harbour company hopes to proceed with both centres before starting any house-building.

"We can proceed with the two sports centres which is part of our commitment to providing things for local people, as with the harbour fountain," said Mr Minter. He said he was aware there would be criticism about not including a ferry service.

"We gave a deadline for those interested to come up with a business plan and that has passed. We cannot go on waiting," he said.

Mr Minter added that the original development plan, drawn up in 2007 by Lord Foster, became unworkable due to legislation which would have meant spending £5 million on flood defences, making the scheme financially non-viable.

  • The seafront exhibition is at the Triennial Visitor Centre in Tontine Street today, tomorrow and on Saturday.
    Opening times are 10am to 8pm today and 10am to 5.30pm tomorrow and Saturday.
    Presentations will also be given by Trevor Minter and Toby Denham, from Terry Farrell and Partners, tomorrow (Friday) at Quarterhouse from 4pm to 5.30pm and 7pm to 8.30pm. To book free tickets call 01303 858500 or go to http://www.quarterhouse.co.uk/
    For more information go to http://www.folkestoneseafront.com/
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