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Sheerness town centre to receive £100k from Neats Court retail park developers

Swale council has moved to reassure people that £100,000 set aside to revamp Sheerness town centre is still going to be made available.

The cash comes from an agreement between the local authority and the developers behind Queenborough’s Neats Court retail park.

As it was received as long ago as 2013, there have been fears the money would not be forthcoming.

Cllr Mike Cosgrove from Swale Borough Council.
Cllr Mike Cosgrove from Swale Borough Council.

It is intended to be used to spruce up the area and attract increased visitor numbers.

Some traders, however, have voiced concerns the town centre would not receive the promised boost.

Swale’s cabinet member for regeneration said last week that the money is definitely coming to the Island.

Cllr Mike Cosgrove (Con) revealed the £100k had been used unsuccessfully to try and attract ‘match-funding’ from Townscape Heritage.

If this had been successful, it would have seen Sheerness receive £1m towards regeneration projects to boost and conserve its heritage and history.

Cllr Cosgrove said a lot of effort had gone into trying to secure the extra money.

He said: “We are, of course, really disappointed that our most recent bid to the Townscape Heritage was unsuccessful.

“We are currently considering putting in another bid, as this presents the opportunity to use the money to lever in significant additional funds, but this is subject to the feedback we receive.

Sheerness town centre
Sheerness town centre

“Let us be very clear, whether or not we do pursue another bid, the money can only be

spent to the benefit of Sheerness town centre and we will continue to work closely with stakeholders in planning such investment.”

The revised bid would be submitted in the summer and it would mean the money would be used next year.

It would need to focus on physical improvements to the town and the council is currently awaiting feedback to find out why it missed out previously.

Cllr Cosgrove said it would be best for anyone with an interest in creating a better town centre to work together.

He said: “The danger, I think, is that everybody will have good ideas and they would all be relatively small and not make as big of a difference.

“Realistically, it will depend on the town team and deciding on a costed list of priorities.

“So in a sense the pressure is on the town team to give that lead.

“It would be wrong of us to just push what we might think because we have got to have buy-in from residents.”

John Nurden, chairman of Sheerness Town Team
John Nurden, chairman of Sheerness Town Team

Money could be spent directly by the council on agreed works and as grants to third parties such as for shop-front improvements.

Sheerness Town Team chairman John Nurden said: “We have consistently been asking the traders and the public what they want to see and we have been putting together a list and we are still working on that and will be getting back to the council in due course.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to really give a long-awaited boost to the Island and particularly Sheerness.”

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