A multi-million pound development scheme to overhaul Chatham town centre is on the verge of completion.
Work on the Chatham Placemaking project began in 2017 following the award of £4million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. The project will result in an easier journey for pedestrians and cyclists from Chatham railway station to the waterfront bus station and town centre.
Included within the Chatham Placemaking work is the introduction of better crossing points and a reconfiguring of steps and disabled access. There will be improved paving materials, seating, lighting and tree planting. In addition, part of the journey between the bus and rail station passes under a road bridge and the council has purchased arches under the bridge that are being tendered out for a café and restaurant offer.
Chatham Placemaking is part of Medway Council’s 20-year regeneration programme and it will be followed by a separate development that will see the construction of waterfront accommodation. Premier Construction recently spoke to Medway Council Leader Alan Jarrett to find out more about Chatham’s exciting changes:
“As part of making Chatham our city centre, there’s a whole raft of work to be done. One of the first things we did was create a new bus station at Chatham waterfront. We were conscious that the journey from the railway station to the bus station wasn’t the most scenic route so we put in a bid for funding for Chatham Placemaking. The aim is to revitalise the journey between the railway station and bus station to make it much more scenic and pleasant.
“On our own land in the centre of Chatham some new accommodation is also being built with the aim of bringing more disposable income into the town centre. We’ve got planning approval for 115 apartments on the waterfront and there will be cafes etc on the ground floor. There’s another development to the north that we’re bringing forward. We set up our own housing company recently to help us to do that and maximise the financial benefit for the council. All of this is part of the reinvigoration of Chatham as the city centre of Medway.”
Throughout the project, which is scheduled to complete in the summer, there has been a great deal of community involvement. Reflecting on this and the overall importance of the project, Alan added:
“The community aspect of the project has been very important and we have consulted on it because it’s such a wide ranging piece of work. Lots of local snippets have been etched into some of the granite steps and kerbs to tell a bit more of the story of Chatham. When you’re doing a project like this which has such widespread implications, not just for Chatham but for Medway as a whole, I think it’s important to do that.
“It’s a really important piece of work and over the next couple of years we’ll see if it comes to fruition – we’re determined that it will.”
Chatham Placemaking is a key component in the aim of turning Chatham into Medway’s city centre. Similar regeneration projects across Medway will continue until 2035.