A council has unveiled plans to bring back a town’s once much-loved fish market destroyed in a fire more than a year ago.
Canterbury City Council this week revealed it is looking to secure the return of stalls and commercial units in Whitstable Harbour, as part of a ten-year vision.
The Fish Market and Crab and Winkle restaurant were destroyed in a blaze last May after flames spread into the building from a neighbouring cockle shed.
As part of its latest plans, the authority hopes to develop the cockle shed site into new commercial units for residents and tourists.
Louis Hurst, who runs HatHats coffee which has a shop in the harbour, welcomed the plans but warned the town would need to come together to make it work.
“It looks promising but it’s in the very early stages,” he said.
“What we need to be doing is ensuring each element of the harbour is working together, the harbour needs a cohesive plan.
“The harbour is a jewel in the Whitstable offering and I really liked the vision to make some of the commercial spaces into incubation hubs for smaller businesses to grow and develop.
“There was a big employment agenda to create jobs and support local businesses which I think was really good.
“We should be thinking about the harbour as one, so it’ll be interesting to see how the plans for some zones work out but that’s why we have the consultation period.”
The Crab and Winkle restaurant could also be set to reopen with the existing tenant, Elizabeth Bennett, taking back possession of the building to begin the business’s internal refit when repairs carried out by the council are completed.
Looking to fix the main structure of the building, it is expected these works will be completed in late February 2024.
Part of the wider scheme includes a review of the role of the council in retaining a commercial presence in the South Quay Shed and the exploration of the feasibility of short-term events such as pop-up markets.
It is also hoped to begin to plan the next steps required to eliminate single-use plastic from the harbour as well as extend the pontoon to widen commercial opportunities for leisure craft.
The initial ideas have been put to the public, with a two-month period for feedback and opinions before the council takes a look and reconfigures the scheme.
Chairman of the Whitstable Harbour Board and Gorrell councillor Chris Cornell, said: “The Harbour Board is run by a unique combination of local councillors and local people who have been beavering away on the overall vision and are keen to see what the community thinks.
“This is a genuine consultation. There is a real ability to influence and shape this over the next couple of months and we want to hear lots of good ideas about the future of our harbour.
“We all have the same objective here – to see the harbour flourishing and continuing to play its role at the heart of the town. And not just for the next 10 years, but many more beyond.”
Council spokesman Rob Davies added: "We have said all along that we would consult on the future redevelopment of the Cockle Shed site, and it is a priority of the Harbour Board to return a fish market to the harbour.
"We are now in the consultation phase for the draft strategic plan, and we're keen to hear the views of the public on the future of that particular site and the harbour as a whole.”
To take part in the consultation visit the council’s website.