Spirit of Sittingbourne LLP is a Public Private Partnership between U+I plc, Swale Borough Council, Quinn Estates and Essential Land.
The scheme will deliver a new retail park with three large format retail units, including Home Bargains and Food Warehouse from Iceland, plus a new drive-through from Costa Coffee. A new 308-space multi-storey car park will provide central, easy parking close to Sittingbourne’s new amenities and public spaces in the town centre.
The Light Cinemas will operate a new 8-screen multiplex cinema alongside six new restaurants, attracting up to 400,000 visitors per year and creating a night time economy that Sittingbourne currently lacks. Confirmed early restaurant signings include national operators Pizza Express and Wildwood.
A new public square will provide open space for cultural activities creating a pleasing welcome to the town and connecting the train station more naturally to the High Street, providing footfall and a new logical flow to the town centre.
Travelodge will operate a brand-new 63-bed hotel overlooking the public square providing a centrally located facility for visitors, helping Sittingbourne to become a ‘destination town’.
Linking the Forum car park to the High Street is an integral part of plans for the regeneration of the town – helping to increase footfall in the high street and to attract a wider range of traders than can currently be accommodated.
The success of the new Saturday and artisan markets has shown that this could provide a real boost to town centre retailers who have helped shape the current plans through extensive consultation over the last few years.
The initial idea to close the whole length of the High Street for the Friday market was revised following feedback from local businesses who wanted the lower end to remain open. This has now been incorporated into the plan which has been widely supported and we’re working with Kent Highways to plan the necessary works to make the market move a success. The move will take place from Friday, 12 January 2018.
Dates for the relocation are still to be confirmed as we’re working with Swale Borough Council and Kent Highways to try to coordinate the timings with the works for the wider town centre regeneration. We’re keen to avoid carrying out any infrastructure works which would only need to be replaced as part of the changes to the road layout and want to try to manage the potential disruption to traffic whilst the works are carried out.
We continue to market the scheme’s opportunities to potential tenants and will update in due course.
In March 2015, Swale Borough Council’s planning committee resolved to grant planning approval for Phase 1 of the Spirit of Sittingbourne scheme.
The Council is taking advantage of very low interest rates to borrow from the Treasury to fund the capital cost of the regeneration scheme. The independent financial evaluation shows that borrowing costs are more than offset by income from the tenants that the scheme will generate. The surplus profit from the scheme will be used to fund Council services, including keeping Council Tax down.
Some concern has been expressed locally about the Council borrowing to fund the regeneration scheme. However, as the independent financial valuation shows, the cost of borrowing will be met and exceeded by the return that the scheme will generate. In addition to this financial return there will be a positive economic impact on existing businesses and with new businesses coming to the town the Council will benefit from the business rates these new enterprises will pay.
The scheme will bring around £330m into Sittingbourne over the next ten years and create around 700 new jobs within phase 1. About 230 of these will be permanent jobs generated by the new cinema, retail and restaurants.
The £59m phase 1 of this development project is a major mixed- use scheme being delivered by Swale Borough Council’s development partner Spirit of Sittingbourne - in a public private partnership that includes U+I, Essential Land and Quinn Estates.
As part of our s106 agreement with the council, 50% of the overall jobs during construction will be reserved for people living in Kent, with 20% of that total from within Swale.When the commercial units are operational, we have made the commitment to source 60% of employees from Kent, with 30% of that total from within Swale.
We’re working up a plan with the future occupiers of the scheme to advertise jobs locally and will release details at the appropriate time.
The scheme includes the remodelling of the town centre and the introduction of a new highway arrangement outside the railway station. This will create a pedestrian friendly environment whilst maintaining traffic flow. The works will be designed to minimise disruption but it’s inevitable some disruption will take place over the construction period and Spirit of Sittingbourne commits to communicating any potential disruption early.