Published: 13:56, 20 September 2019
| Updated: 13:20, 23 September 2019
A downtrodden market square will be revamped after being selected for a £2.4 million grant.
Dover will now boast a new fountain, with shooting jets and lights like that in Folkestone, coupled with seating and an extended pedestrian zone thanks to the cash from the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF).
It is hoped the improvements will make people want to spend time in the Market Square while encouraging shoppers from St James to venture out into Cannon Street, Biggin Street and the High Street.
The success is the culmination of six years planning by Dover Town Team, the town and district councils and volunteers following a bid to the sixth round of the CCF for which they were put on a reserve list in April.
The news came through yesterday that the Dover will get the cash (Thursday).
Dover Town Team chairman John Angell said: “This is a great success story for Dover and a tribute to the cooperation between Dover Town Team, Dover Town Council and Dover District Council, and a lot of hard work by volunteers and council officers who have worked in tandem.
“Now the really hard work begins.”
Dover District Council, which helped fund the sixth round bid, will contribute the balance of funds to supplement the £2.44 million from the central government’s fund. The project must be underway by March 31 next year.
The previous attempt, as part of the CCF's fifth round, was funded by Dover Town Council.
Since then construction of St James has finished and improvements were made to the plan, including repaving the old Flying Horse Lane, one of the remaining small alleys in the area and thus one of historical importance.
Planning has been secured from DDC's planning department and Mr Angell said "As the land is KCC's we will be using KCC approved contractors."
Disruption will be kept to a minimum during the construction, he added.
"This is a great success story... now the work begins..." — Dover Town Team chairman John Angell
MP Charlie Elphicke also championed the cause by holding talks with ministers at the Housing, Communities and Local Government Department in recent weeks, pressing them to fund this and another major scheme for Dover.
Mr Elphicke said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see us finally getting a fairer share of investment.
“I’ve been clear with ministers that Dover deserves better. For too long its vital role for our nation has been forgotten.
“But we are making progress – a new hospital, a new leisure centre, high-speed rail. Burlington House down, St James up and a new marina on the way.
“We’ve achieved a lot. Yet there is always more to do. We must build on the success to deliver the brighter future for our area we all want.”
As well as the Market Square project, a bid for government cash for a pedestrian bridge over the A20 linking the town centre to the seafront has been shortlisted for a grant of up to £25 million. As previously reported on KentOnline, Dover District Council will receive £150,000 to draw up a full business case.
Mr Elphicke said he has been urging ministers to back both plans to help revive Dover town centre.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick wrote to him last week to say he understood Dover’s “unique challenges” – and that it “has the potential to be front and centre” of new government schemes.