The first phase of roadworks to facilitate the Spirit of Sittingbourne regeneration scheme met the Christmas trading embargo at the end of 2017. 

Our next phase of roadworks will kick off in the first quarter of this year (2018). Check back here for updates in the coming weeks.

1. Who are Spirit of Sittingbourne?

Spirit of Sittingbourne LLP is a Public Private Partnership between U+I plc, Swale Borough Council, Quinn Estates and Essential Land.

2. What new facilities will the scheme deliver for Sittingbourne?

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’.

3. How is the market incorporated into future plans?

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.

4. When will we find out other tenants for leisure elements?

We continue to market the scheme’s opportunities to potential tenants and will update in due course.

1. When was planning permission granted?

In March 2015, Swale Borough Council’s planning committee resolved to grant planning approval for Phase 1 of the Spirit of Sittingbourne scheme.

2. Will the scheme be subject to further delays?

We have taken every step to ensure the plans are right for the people of Sittingbourne. A lot of work has taken place to ensure that this summer we move from vision to reality. We’re confident of meeting the new timetables.

3. How is the scheme being paid for?

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.

4. Why is the Council funding the scheme?

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.

1. What is the economic benefit to Sittingbourne of the scheme?

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. 

2. Will any jobs be reserved for local people?

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.
3. How will the jobs advertised?

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.

1. Will regeneration project create disruption in the town centre?

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.

1. When will the roadworks take place?

The roadworks to facilitate the development of the leisure quarter, improve traffic flow and upgrade public realm will take place in four phases over 2017 and 2018. Phase one took place from the first week of August 2017 and was completed by the beginning of December 2017.

2. What do Phase One works entail?

Phase one works saw westbound traffic from St Michael’s Rd diverted onto Station Street allowing works to be carried out on West Street, Station St, St Michaels Rd and the adjoining car parks. 

3. How are the works being paid for?

A £2.5m grant from the South East LEP is contributing to highways and utilities works across phase one, with Spirit of Sittingbourne covering the cost of any additional works for the phase.

4. Who will carry out the works?

The roadworks will be carried out by experienced highways contractor, Erith. As part of an agreement with Swale Borough Council 50% of the overall jobs during construction will be reserved for people living in Kent, with 20% of that total from within Swale.

5. What will car parking provision be during works/before new MSCP built for the town centre and station?

It’s our current intention to maintain the majority of parking provision until the Multi-Storey Car Park opens. This will be formally agreed with Swale Borough Council and we will of course communicate plans to maintain adequate parking during the construction period once agreed.

6. When is the Multi-Storey Car Park due to be built?

Work on the Multi-Storey Car Park is due to begin in early Spring 2018 with a nine month build period.

7. What impact will the scheme have on current high street businesses?

A key objective of the scheme is to increase the attractiveness of Sittingbourne high street as a destination. The new leisure and retail offer will increase footfall to the existing High St businesses due to improved public realm creating a more attractive pedestrian route from the station into the town centre.

8. What about impact on traders on diversion routes?

There will of course be some disruption during works. Spirit and Kent County Council Highways will consult with impacted businesses during specific phases of works. We are committed to going above any beyond the minimum required andwill be communicating directly with businesses, their customers and local business organisations well in advance of the works.

9. What consultation/warnings being given to try to avoid gridlock?

Kent County Council mandates the contractor to carry out consultation and notification of works proportionate to their impact. Spirit of Sittingbourne are committed to going beyond these baseline requirements to communicate directly with potentially impacted businesses and residents. We’ll communicate well in advance through local media, social media and Council/Spirit communications channels.

10. What about the works on Milton Road?

Utility works are being carried out by UK Power Networks from July 25th 201 until early September. During those works Milton Road will be closed to traffic, with diversions in place.

11. What about pedestrian access through Milton Road?

There will be pedestrian access during the works.

12. What about the taxi rank at the back of the Forum car park?

Utility works are being carried out by UK Power Networks from July 25th 201 until early September. During those works Milton Road will be closed to traffic, with diversions in place.

13. How will traffic exit the Forum car park and cross the carriageway?

A give way junction will regulate traffic.

14. How will traffic leaving the Forum car park reach the station forecourt?

Traffic will join St Michael’s Road from the Forum car park by using the access previously reserved for buses and taxis – the breakthrough. As a temporary measure, eastbound HGVs will travel down Station Street then right turn onto St Michael’s Road until the breakthrough is widened.

15. How will works impact station season ticket holders?

The Car Park along St Michael’s Road (adjacent to Kwikfit) is being provided to Network Rail and the highway works will not be permitted outside the station  until the St Michael’s Road Car park is operational so there will be no reduction in parking spaces to Network Rail customers.

16. What alternative routes will be advertised around the town centre?

Where road closures form part of the highways works alternative routes will be advertised at Diversion routes will also be signed on site.

17. How will town centre car parking change overall?

The current development proposals include for the full closure of Cockleshell Walk and Spring Street car parks for residential development, the full closure of Spring Street car park for construction of the new Multi Storey and the partial closure of the Forum car park for construction of the Cinema and Hotel. The Network Rail car park to the front of the station will close and become a new public square and this will be replaced by a section of St Michael’s road car park transferring to Network rail under a land swap arrangement.

The overall spaces lost to development are detailed in a Council-approved car park strategy that includes the new Multi Storey Car park with 308 spaces and changing Albion Street and Crown Quay lane to long stay parking. The town centre strategy is under constant review and may require further refinement as the development progresses.

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