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Dover Society hits out at Western Docks scheme with motel made from old shipping containers


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A civic society has lashed out at a scheme to create a motel out of old shipping containers.

The Dover Society says it should be for a fully commercial port, like Rotterdam, rather than the heritage site and tourist magnet that this town also is.

The Western Docks Marina Curve yesterday, where the development is planned. Picture: Sam Lennon
The Western Docks Marina Curve yesterday, where the development is planned. Picture: Sam Lennon

The group also says the hotel accommodation is so cramped that it would end up being used for refugees and the homeless.

The Society was speaking out against a scheme, which is part of the Port of Dover redevelopment, the £250 million Dover Western Docks Revival.

It will be discussed by the district council's planning committee next Thursday night.

The Dover Society, in a written submission to the council, said it wanted the land re-used but stressed: "To achieve this by construction of a motel and other facilities from shipping containers is totally inappropriate for the site.

"The application clearly regards a commercial port as an appropriate context for such a design but Dover is nothing like Rotterdam and it completely ignores the status of the iconic waterfront setting, which has long been a major tourist attraction.

Dover Western Docks yesterday, as it continues to redevelop. Picture: Sam Lennon
Dover Western Docks yesterday, as it continues to redevelop. Picture: Sam Lennon

"The proposal would debase the area so that its full potential for regeneration would not be realised. The site requires something of quality that better reflects the historic and cultural context that it adjoins."

The group said the planned motel rooms were too small and so would not attract visitors.

Its submission added: "We regard the size of rooms to be barely adequate, with no room to move about. This is not the kind of accommodation that is likely to attract visitors

"We are particularly concerned that there is no intention of providing quality holiday accommodation for tourists but that it will be used as a refugee or homeless hostel."

The Society is suspicious of this because in June 2018 Dover District Council had said that it was willing to use modular (prefabricated) accommodation to deal with the area's homelessness.

"The application clearly regards a commercial port as an appropriate context for such a design but Dover is nothing like Rotterdam." Dover Society

The application, for Port of Dover land, is to build five three-storey motel buildings with 90 rooms and buildings for reception and storage on the Marina Curve.

The applicants are the Electric Motel Company Ltd.

This is part of a double planning application for the site going before councillors next week.

The other is for a swimming pool, restaurant and bar. That scheme is by the organisations Bride Hall Real Estate Partners and Concise Living.

Planning officers are recommending councillors approve both applications.

The wider scheme would include a swimming pool, bar and restaurant which comes under a separate planning application. Submitted image
The wider scheme would include a swimming pool, bar and restaurant which comes under a separate planning application. Submitted image

They said this would help the local economy, with the hotel in particular helping encourage briefly-passing visitors to stay longer.

They added that the design was innovative and colourful, yet balanced to respect the historic elements of the setting.

The officers said in a report to councillors: "It would help to consolidate the new waterfront quarter as a destination in its own right, adding footfall and visitor spend and creating local employment to the benefit of the town and local economy.

"There are no adverse impacts of the proposed developments that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the clear benefits."

A Port of Dover spokesman said: “The confidence in Dover as a whole, including through the Port’s development of the Western Docks, is already creating opportunity and interest.

The shipping containers would be moulded together into a 90 bed motel at Dover Marina Curve. Submitted image
The shipping containers would be moulded together into a 90 bed motel at Dover Marina Curve. Submitted image

" As the port authority, we always set out to create the commercial opportunity, the footprint upon which others would be attracted to invest in Dover.

"It is this commercial opportunity, presented by our creation of the Marina Curve, that led to developers recently proposing a contemporary scheme for planning permission.

"Whilst the current scheme has not been met with adequate enthusiasm, we are convinced that the right commercial opportunity for the Marina Curve will present itself.

" The planning application in itself is an important enabling step towards being able to bring forward new waterside development for the people of Dover and visitors to the area to enjoy and confirms the attractiveness to developers.

"The Port has worked hard to keep its flagship development moving forward during such a difficult period for everyone and values the support it has received as the project continues to generate wider interest in supporting local economic activity at this critical time.”

The proposed site: The hotel is outlined in blue, the pool,restaurant, bar and offices are lined in pink, and the public open space is outlined yellow
The proposed site: The hotel is outlined in blue, the pool,restaurant, bar and offices are lined in pink, and the public open space is outlined yellow

The applications will be discussed at the Dover District Council planning committee meeting, which is virtual and from 6pm on Thursday, April 22.

View the meetings and agendas sections of the council website dover.gov.uk where there are instructions on how to view the meeting remotely.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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