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Next step in bid for £20 million boost for Sheerness

Published Thursday 10 March, 2022
Last updated on Friday 11 March, 2022

The bid for £20 million of funding to revive Sheerness is being discussed by councillors next week.

Swale Borough Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the proposals following feedback from a consultation last month.

The council hopes to unlock £20 million of Government funding for Sheerness with plans to:

  • improve health and leisure facilities at Beachfields, to support the local community and boost the appeal of the area for local people and visitors
  • increase the availability of much-needed technical and vocational training for 16 to 18-year-olds, and adult learners, by working with Sheppey College to expand their existing site and increase the range of courses available
  • develop new creative studios/workspace on the Master’s House site by converting existing outbuildings to help support local trades
  • putting local history, heritage and natural environment at the heart of the plans and help connect development projects to the high street to bring wider benefits for Sheerness and beyond.

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy at the council said:

“We’re working really hard to make sure that when the bidding opens, we’re putting forward the strongest plans possible to secure the Government funding that Sheerness, and the wider local area, desperately needs.

“There was a really positive response to the consultation, and we’ve incorporated as many ideas from that as we can. It was clear people want to see an emphasis on local history and environment throughout the plans, and we’re incorporating this as we finalise the more detailed plans.

“We have also heard loud and clear that people would like to see soft play and café facilities at Beachfields, and we are keen to include those. We’re also pleased to confirm that we will be including public toilets.

“There were other brilliant suggestions that, unfortunately, are beyond the scope of the funding available, but that doesn’t mean they all won’t happen. Many people talked about improved coastal footpaths, but that is already been worked on as part of another project.

“Similarly, a tidal pool does sound great, but unfortunately early investigations have shown it is highly unlikely to be deliverable within the constraints of the Levelling Up funding available.

“We have handed all the consultation findings over to our architects who are now working through what is most desired – obviously with an eye on budget, delivery timeframe and running costs.

“As it stands, it looks like we’ll be at or near the limit of the £20 million funding bid, and we are including our own match funding to give us a better chance of success.

“We’re committing to invest in Master’s House, and plan to use the land value of the Bridge Road car park and the Old Library to help deliver the scheme, alongside other investment in public facilities and specialist equipment for the college.

“We would have loved to do more, but whilst it sounds a lot, £20 million can only pay for so much. That’s why we’re trying to make sure the bid not only directly improves the area to be developed, but also delivers wider, longer term improvements across the town and the Island. That will be the true measure of levelling up, and one I’m confident these plans will help deliver.”

The cabinet meeting discussing the plans will take place on Wednesday, 16 March and the report can be found here.