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Homes approved for former gasworks in Ship Street, Folkestone

Plans to turn a former gasworks into a housing estate have been given the green light - with councillors vowing to avoid creating a 'ghetto'.

The development in Ship Street, Folkestone, will be a mix of affordable council homes, shared-ownership properties and others available for rent.

Land at the former Folkestone gas works site is currently
Land at the former Folkestone gas works site is currently

Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) will choose the proportions of each type of housing.

The local authority’s cabinet met to discuss the plans at a meeting on Wednesday (September 21).

Councillors were discussing how at least 22% of the development needs to be affordable housing.

Speaking in support, Cllr David Wimble (Ind)) said: “The more council housing we can get there without creating ghettos the better.”

The authority has previously said they would like the site to host cafes, shops, and a cultural space.

A sketch released by the council shows how the land might look
A sketch released by the council shows how the land might look

Council leader David Monk called the site as it stands currently “a blot on the landscape” and a “complete waste of brownfield site”.

The council cabinet unanimously approved the plans.

FHDC finalised their purchase of the site in March 2021.

The gasworks were owned by the Folkestone Gas Company, founded in 1842 by Ralph Thomas Brockman.

The operation moved to the site off Ship Street in 1888, ceased functioning in 1956, and demolition was underway in phases between 1960 and 2001.

Cllr David Wimble. Picture: FHDC
Cllr David Wimble. Picture: FHDC

The cabinet wants an additional £350,000 from the full council on top of the existing budget of £230,000 to do preparatory work on the site before deciding whether to finance the whole redevelopment itself or partner with private companies.

The council predicts the whole development of around 150 homes will cost £41m-£43m.

Cllr Prater (Lib Dem) said that the development was necessary given that “the market has failed” to provide housing “so it is right that the council step in”.

Cllr Monk told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that FHDCis “one of the first in the country to restart building council houses, and we’ve made that pledge over the next ten or twelve years to build another thousand”.

The authority has around 3,400 council houses at the moment.

The council has applied for grant funding from the Brown Field Land Remediation Fund, and is considering applying for funds from Homes England and the Affordable Homes Fund.

It plans to have appointed architects by November 2022, submit planning applications in June 2023, and have work start in spring 2024.

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