I've pressed Government ministers to help revive Dover town centre and stump up cash for two major projects. I held talks with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Department about the schemes.
Dover District Council’s bid for funding for a pedestrian bridge over the A20, linking the town centre to the seafront, was shortlisted by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick’s department in recent weeks. Grants of up to £25 million are available and council will now receive £150,000 to draw up a full business case.
Meanwhile a separate bid for £3.9 million to regenerate Market Square with lights, a new fountain and an extended pedestrianised zone was placed on a reserve list in April. I have been urging ministers to back both plans to help revive Dover town centre. Mr Jenrick wrote to me last week to say he understood Dover’s “unique challenges” and that it “has the potential to be front and centre” of new government schemes.
I’m fighting to see we get a fairer share of investment. We’ve achieved a lot, yet there is always more to do. Burlington House and the old multi-storey are down. A shopping and cinema complex and the new leisure centre are up. A new marina is on the way. Yet I’ve been clear with ministers that Dover deserves even better.
For too long its vital role for our nation has been forgotten. For too long this country has worked for the big cities rather than the towns and villages of our regions. Things have to change. These two projects will help us build the brighter future that has long been deserved.
The talks follow an industry report published by the Association of Convenience Stores which found Dover now has 80 shops employing 695 people. St James shopping centre, which opened in early 2018, has 12 shops and restaurants. Owners Legal & General say 90 per cent of the development, by floor area, is now let or in solicitors’ hands, with a further three lettings in negotiations.