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Dover District Council cabinet agrees to turn former Co-operative at Stembrook into start-up business base

By Sam Lennon

A former foodstore is to be converted into business start-up units, councillors have agreed.

Dover District Council's cabinet voted for the former Co-op at Stembrook to be turned into incubator spaces to give fledgling firms the chance to establish themselves.

The council says this could lead to them moving into permanent premises in the town centre.

The former Stembrook Co-op
The former Stembrook Co-op

There has long been concern about several businesses in the main precinct being left empty and new competition from the St James's retail and leisure development, which opened this year.

Council deputy leader Michael Conolly told the meeting on Monday: "This is one brick in the wall and I hope it will contribute the regeneration.

"It is hoped those using the warehouse wil then to encouraged to come to the town centre.

"This is only a small part but it is a sign of our commitment to regenerating the old part of the town."

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, portfolio holder for property management, said: "It would be a shame to leave the building empty. Footfall coming into the high street is not great, with online shopping."

The spaces will be available to rent from Dover Big Local for up th 12 months.

The Co-operative Food Store opened at Stembrook in July 2010, closed in February 2017 and has been left empty ever since.

St James' development
St James' development

DDC bought the building this April and hopes that its closeness to the £53 million St James' will provide a link to the town precinct area and boost footfall between the two locations.

Dover Big Local says that the project is to help people into paid work through being hired, self-employed and setting up their own businesses.

It says there is evidence that businesses that start in incubation spaces have far greater chance of long-term success.

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