Published: 15:30, 09 June 2017
Sittingbourne’s long-awaited £57million town centre regeneration has taken a huge step forward after months of delays – but there’s still some way to go.
Permission for the project, which includes a multiplex cinema, restaurants, hotel, multi-storey car park, new homes and shops, has finally been rubber-stamped.
The official approval from Swale council comes 15 months after its planning committee gave the plans the thumbs up. It was left in limbo as negotiations with Network Rail and Kent Council County over a new road layout outside Sittingbourne Railway Station stalled the process.
Changes need to be made to St Michael’s Road, where the station roundabout is to be replaced with traffic lights, Dover Street, Fountain Street and Station Street.
However, roadworks cannot start until a “stopping up order” is made and last Wednesday, the Department for Transport started a consultation giving people until Wednesday, June 28, to comment.
These two stages mark a big step forward in the scheme. The council, after controversially agreeing to take out a huge loan, is poised to spend up to £28m on building the project, which is being overseen by the Spirit of Sittingbourne consortium. A date for the roadworks is yet to be confirmed and negotiations with Kent County Council’s highways over timings continue.
Last month, Swale announced the Friday market, which needs to be moved from The Forum shopping centre car park to make way for the cinema, was not going to the High Street yet.
A spokesman said the date was still to be confirmed as the council wanted to avoid doing infrastructure works “which would only need to be replaced as part of the changes to the road layout for the regeneration scheme”.
Meanwhile, the It’s Here signs, which were criticised after months with seemingly no progress, have now gone. Yellow hoardings were put up last month at the old Princes Street waste depot saying it had “three big retailers coming to town”. The area off Eurolink Way will be home to Iceland’s Food Warehouse, a drive-through Costa Coffee and Home Bargains.
Copies of the stopping up order are available at Sittingbourne Library in Central Avenue. Objections need to be made by midnight on June 28 and should quote NATTRAN/SE/S247/2785. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn House, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR.
More by this authorPoppy Jeffery