by Suruchi Sharma Fri 18 October 2019, 4:51 pm
Medway Council was praised for its "great ambition" as opportunities for its major development and regeneration work were shared at the launch of the latest issue of Medway1 magazine this week.
The networking event, held at the BNP Paribas Real Estate offices in central London on Wednesday (October 16), included developers, investors and architects. They had the chance to meet senior members of the council to discuss potential development opportunities in the area.
The evening included an announcement about Medway Council’s intention to bid to become City of Culture 2025, and delegates learned about key investment areas including Chatham, Strood and Rochester.
Medway Council attendees included its leader, Councillor Alan Jarrett, who thanked both sponsors and regeneration experts 3Fox International for producing issue 12 of the magazine.
He spoke about the council’s “talented officers who know how to manage projects” and the authority’s intention to have schemes “delivered on time and on budget”.
Cllr Jarrett added: “We as elected members decide upon a course of action, a strategic priority, and then we work really hard to deliver. Our watchword is pace, as we actually intend with getting on with stuff.” Discussing the “bags of opportunity” available in Medway he said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved so far, there is a lot more to come, and we have fabulous developers and opportunities.”
He explained that regeneration was important “to provide a better standard of living” in the area and added: “One of our challenges is growth for all - how we roll out the benefits of regeneration to the whole of Medway.”
The council’s deputy chief executive and director of regeneration, culture, environment and transformation, Richard Hicks, talked about the “monumental regeneration programme” ahead, and shared the progress of the region’s major development projects.
He said Medway’s population currently stood at 280,000, which was set to grow to 320,000 over the next 20 years – bringing almost 30,000 new homes and 17,000 jobs to the area.
Hicks said: “We are a city in all but name. We operate at city scale, we think like a city, we act like a city, and we have a rich heritage and a great future – and we have a track record of delivery.”
He spoke about the transformation of Chatham Maritime with its top residential, retail and restaurant offerings and shared news about the development of Strood Riverside.
Strood has completed £9m of placemaking activity that has improved public realm, and £3.5m of flood defence works have been completed.
Hicks spoke about the development of 550 homes at Strood Riverside including the unique views residents would enjoy over the castle, cathedral and River Medway. He said: “This development site will be coming to the market over the next few days. This site is coming forward by the end of this week – we will formally be putting that opportunity out there.”
Hicks talked about the flagship regeneration site of Rochester Riverside that will have 1,400 new homes and features fast links into central London with a 38-minute train service to St Pancras.
The first phase of this project was led by developers Countryside and Hyde, including 489 homes with a quarter affordable housing, a hotel and commercial floorspace.
Hicks also mentioned Berkeley Homes scheme Victory Pier in Gillingham, and the Kitchener Barracks site in Chatham being delivered by developers Top Hat.
He spoke enthusiastically about the council’s £170m Housing Infrastructure Fund bid, which if won will be used to improve road and rail connections to unlock the potential of the Hoo Peninsula.
Talking about the council’s project Innovation Park Medway (IPM), based at Rochester Airport, which will attract technology, engineering and manufacturing businesses, Hicks added: “We believe IPM will position Medway as the economic powerhouse of the South East – a southern powerhouse if you will – because business is booming in Medway. The rate of growth of our economy in Medway outpaces the south east average and outpaces the national average.”
He added that nine years ago Medway’s economy was valued at £3.3bn, while a year ago it was £4.8bn and currently it is £5.2bn. Hicks was adamant that “Medway is absolutely open for business”, and added it was also important to remember the region had a huge cultural and heritage offering.
He said: “Great places are more than just bricks and mortar, and are more than just infrastructure. Actually what makes a great place is its cultural offer. What animates and what brings dynamism to a place is our cultural offer and what we have in Medway is a great backstory and an authenticity. In terms of our rich heritage, we have the finest and tallest Norman castle in the country, the second oldest cathedral in the country, we have the best preserved dockyard, and we have rich connections with Dickens who drew on the people and the places of Medway as the inspiration for some of his greatest works.”
At the exclusive event Hicks announced Medway Council was bidding for City of Culture 2025 and asked for support from delegates. He added: “We have all the attributes, all the credentials to secure UK City of Culture in 2025. We are determined to ignite and inspire the pride, the ambition, and the aspiration of the people of Medway.”
The event included deputy leader and portfolio holder for housing and community services, Councillor Howard Doe; chief executive Neil Davies; assistant director, physical and cultural regeneration, Dawn Hudd, and economic development strategy manager, Joanne Cable.
Chair of The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Christian Brodie, spoke about the group's relationship with the council and praised the authority for its "outstanding track record of delivery". He added: "Medway has great ambition. Both members and officers are always seeking to enhance Medway as a place. Medway’s hallmark has always been one of partnership working, and we have certainly felt that in our work with them.”
Brodie pledged SELEP’s full support to Medway’s City of Culture 2025 campaign and said: “We wish you well and are delighted to have played our part in your impressive journey and regeneration.”
The latest issue of Medway1 magazine was created by regeneration experts 3Fox International. To learn about the publications the company creates head to www.3Foxinternational.com/magazines and to read the latest issue of Medway1 visit www.medway1.com/magazine
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