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Dover District Council propose £250k to kick-start Sandwich Guildhall Forecourt revamp

By Eleanor Perkins

A quarter-of-a-million-pound funding boost from Dover District Council will kick-start the refurbishment of Sandwich Guildhall Forecourt - if approved.

The proposed £250,000 sum - which will go before councillors next month - will commission architects HMY to provide a detailed proposal for the work.

The approved £1million plus transformation includes resurfacing along with the installation of a new bus shelter, seating, water fountain and lighting and is aimed to transform the town for tourists.

The Sandwich Forecourt re-design includes resurfacing and new seating
The Sandwich Forecourt re-design includes resurfacing and new seating

In the mean time, Sandwich Town Council says it is "actively seeking external funding" for the modernisation - regardless of whether its completed in time for The Open golf championship in 2020.

It comes after two speakers stood before the council urging members not to give up on the project following rejections for funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund.

Richard Ralph, chairman of the Town Team, said: "I appeal to you not to let the project quietly fade away. It would give the Guildhall a real wow factor for enhancing our tourism strategy and the resurfacing would make it more accessible for elderly people.

"Let's strike why the iron's hot and get it done for 2020."

Caroline Illsley, owner of fashion store Collection in Delf Street, highlighted the dangers of the cobbles.

Claiming to be an "accident victim" who is "still limping" after she fell in the area in August 2017, she told councillors: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a 21st century Guildhall Forecourt that was visitor friendly?"

Sandwich Town Council has always maintained its commitment to the project which was initially hoped to be completed in time for The Open golf championship's return to Royal St George's in July 2020.

But the authority now says competition of the project does not need to be linked to any forthcoming event.

The £1million plus project will modernise the forecourt in a bid to help tourism. Picture: Tony Flashman
The £1million plus project will modernise the forecourt in a bid to help tourism. Picture: Tony Flashman

Along with Sandwich Toll Bridge Fund, it has agreed to support it "if finances are manageable".

A STC spokesman said: "A New Vision for Sandwich Board remain committed to fulfilling stage one of this project.

"However, the time frame relies upon a number of outside consultants working cohesively at the same or similar time to produce the various elements of this project, which, when pieced together will enable the board to realise the timescale and achievability of the scheme.

"We can confirm that officers and members are actively seeking external funding for this project, further information about which will be provided to the council at our next meeting on February 25."

A spokesman for DDC said: "We continue to work with colleagues and partners as part of the New Vision for Sandwich Project Board who have identified the refurbishment of the Guildhall Forecourt as a priority project.

"Subject to approval of the Medium Term Financial Plan at council in March, DDC is proposing to allocate £250k to the project and continues to work with partners on the New Vision for Sandwich Project Board to source further funding to enable delivery of the works."

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