Published: 07:00, 29 June 2013
The Queenborough and Rushenden regeneration project has reached a crucial stage.
About 20 hectares of former industrial land in Rushenden Road is being prepared for the first phase of the construction of 1,800 homes.
Before work can start, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has to find a developer and will start the search at the end of the month.
Alongside partner Swale council, the HCA hopes to get a developer on board for the first phase within three months.
Work has been carried out to make the area more attractive to potential partners, including raising the ground by one metre to bring it above the flood plain.
Senior development manager at HCA, Neil Miller, said infrastructure has been improved through the Rushenden Relief Road and the opening of the new Morrisons supermarket later this year will create jobs.
He said: “There have been many delays and we are behind where we would have hoped we would have been.
“We have had issues around planning and funding and the downturn in the market hurt everyone. It’s a well-worn story now.
“A lot of people have spent a lot of time on this project and things are starting to happen now.”
The original £400 million regeneration project was formulated in 2003 and included plans for a marina, community facilities and a school.
Primary places on Sheppey are in short supply and there are fears more homes will increase the pressure on education provision in the area.
Mr Miller said: “The master plan was created in a very different economic climate and what we will have to do is work with the developer to bring forward as much of it as we can.”
Emma Wiggins, head of economy and community services at Swale council said: “From the council’s perspective we want to make Swale a better place to live.
“You go anywhere in the country and it is the same thing: Delayed, stalled, even stopped developments. There are a lot of places where things have just ground to a halt.
“With us here, it is just not the case and it shows the commitment and effort of everyone involved.”
She added that residents will be consulted about what they would like to see as part of the regeneration project.
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