Published: 06:00, 28 September 2020
| Updated: 11:35, 28 September 2020
The contract to decontaminate land for the fourth and final phase of the £400million Queenborough and Rushenden regeneration scheme on Sheppey has been signed.
The work was awarded to Surrey-based "remediation" specialists Cognition Land and Water by Swale council and the Government-backed Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) earlier this month.
It is using £5.1m from a 2018 Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to get the ball rolling following demolition of the former Klondyke industrial estate.
The first phase of 100 homes is already finished. The second phase will include a new primary school for Rushenden. Raising the height of the land to take it above sea level has been completed and is being left to settle.
Work on raising the land for phase three on the former rolling mill site is underway.
The massive project was originally intended to take 2,200 houses but was reduced to 1,100 when plans for a marina around Queenborough creek were removed from the masterplan in 2014.
News of the latest development was welcomed by Cllr Cameron Beart (Con, Queenborough and Halfway) but Sheppey businessman Henry Cooper was left fuming that the marina had been dropped.
The owner of Elmhurst Holiday Park at Eastchurch said: "I find it incredible that a place like the Isle of Sheppey has no marina. It is in the perfect location for yachts to moor en route to London or across the sea to Holland. Queenborough Harbour does its best but it is just too small.
"I know people who have headed the biggest redevelopment project in Europe at Battersea who are willing to sit down and discuss this along with some other huge players. But it is as if no one from the council wants to know or even entertain the idea of such a positive development."
Cllr Beart said the site had sat on the open market for seven years before the marina was removed. He said: "Not a single marina developer or operator wanted it."
He added: "I am happy to discuss with the cabinet member for economic development (Mike Whiting, Con, Swale West) at Kent County Council to see if it's something they would be willing to discuss."
Phase four of the Queenborough and Rushenden regeneration features a "creekside leisure development" to include restaurants, bars and shops.
Five years ago, Islanders David Orpin, Peter MacDonald and Tim Bell put forward their own plan for up to 200 moorings, boat repair and storage services, bars, cafes and restaurants utilising the existing creek which they estimated would cost £5.5m and generate up to £500,000 a year for the Island economy.
HCA incorporated a cut-down version into its plans for 100 moorings which Mr Bell, an honorary life rear commodore at Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club, later dismissed as not being financially viable. The regeneration project was first adopted in 2010.
Peel Ports is nine years into its own 20-year masterplan which could include an alternative marina off the coast of Sheerness.
A spokesman for Swale council said: “The contract has been awarded and we’ll be updating local members on the scheme in the coming weeks.”