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Dover Discovery Centre community hub plans costing £7.75m face scrutiny

A multi-million pound refurbishment of a landmark town centre building in Kent is likely to edge closer next week.

Dover Discovery Centre could be transformed in £7.75m plans to create a community hub over the next two years, with a walk-in archive facility for visitors to use.

Dover Discovery Centre. Picture: Google Maps
Dover Discovery Centre. Picture: Google Maps

The project, led by Kent County Council (KCC), aims to bring "higher footfall" to the town centre and improve access to historical resources, including the ruins of St Martin's Le Grand Church and Classis Britannica Fort.

KCC's deputy leader, Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), has urged councillors from all political parties to support the plans during a hybrid meeting at Sessions House, Maidstone, in six days' time on July 13.

In a report published to a panel of 16 councillors, he said: "The project objective is to provide modern, fit for purpose, accommodation for Dover District Council and KCC services on the site."

Dover Discovery Centre (DDC) was constructed in the 1980s, surrounding two separate areas of Roman remains and a Medieval Church.

Spanning four levels, the site is located in the centre of the town between York Street and Market Square and was acquired by KCC in 2003.

"The project objective is to provide modern, fit for purpose, accommodation for Dover District Council and KCC services on the site..."

It currently houses a library and registrar office, Dover Museum, a community theatre, privately run nursery, bronze age boat and adult education service.

However, the ageing building faces "ongoing maintenance issues" and KCC says refurbishment is required to protect the services within it, including archaeological remains.

Under KCC plans, public access would be improved to the extensive historical archives, adult education centre and library.

The county council has pledged to invest £7.2million while Dover council will finance around £550,000, with the project likely to cost a total of £7.75million, including contingency funds.

In his report, Cllr Oakford said: "The proposals play a key role in supporting the regeneration of the town centre, particularly the link through to Market Square, creating a connection and community hub.

"This also supports the exiting success and aims to create an enhanced cultural offer fit for the 21st century."

A final decision will be reached by Cllr Oakford after the County Hall hybrid meeting next Tuesday (July 13) from 10am.

If approved, construction will begin on January 2022 and the works completed by February 2023.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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