Exclusive: Council leader outlines growth plans
by Maria Shahid Fri 31 March 2017, 11:21 am
With £4 million of funding for the Chatham Placemaking project, and two successful Local Growth Fund bids amounting to over £8 million, Medway1 spoke to leader of Medway Council, Councillor Alan Jarrett about making the area a more desirable destination for businesses to lay down their roots.
Jarrett said that Chatham is undergoing a “cultural revival”, with plans to modernise and improve a number of areas between the railway station, bus station and waterfront.
He pointed to outline planning permission being granted for 115 homes on Chatham Waterfront, and Command of the Heights, which has secured a £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund award, to go towards a new ditch and public realm, as well as other improvements.
Plans are also being developed for a new marina, and a Grade II-listed church will be subject to a £1.3 million renovation programme. “This is an exciting time for Chatham; the transformation is well under way and has already attracted new shops and restaurants to its retail and leisure offer,” he said.
Chatham town centre is not the only place in Medway attracting small and medium enterprises; the Innovation Centre Medway has a long waiting list of startup businesses eager to take up residence there. And the business scene is about to boom with Rochester Airport Technology Park on the horizon, having recently been designated the North Kent Enterprise Zone.
Jarrett said: “This has provided a springboard for us to become the destination of choice for businesses in the south-east.”
The council’s ambitions to turn the airport into a multi-use site and attract high-tech businesses are also fast becoming a reality, thanks to two successful Local Growth Fund bids. The most recent was awarded in January 2017 and is worth £3.7million, with the first valued at £4.4 million.
Jarrett said: “The funding will be used to make the site more attractive to potential investors and will help to unlock the land for commercial use. This is an important project, which is going to be crucial to Medway’s growth and economic success.
“Medway is set to become an economic location of real significance. We want to be able to offer everything that businesses need to connect to customers, suppliers and markets. These exciting projects are set to create hundreds of jobs and give Medway the chance to establish itself as a centre of excellence.”