Chatham Docks

Peel L&P is proposing exciting plans for the regeneration of the remaining part of the Chatham Docks Estate, that equates to circa 75 acres. The proposals will be sustainable and genuinely mixed-use, with new green spaces, access to the waterfront and a range of amenities making Chatham Docks a thriving and vibrant place. The proposed regeneration of the remaining estate supports the Government’s policies to build on “brownfield sites” first for new housing and employment, which would otherwise have to be provided by Green Belt land release.

Where is the site?

Located on the River Medway, the site sits between St Mary’s Island and Chatham Waters/Gillingham Pier, with the University of Kent, Canterbury Christchurch College University, University of Greenwich and Mid-Kent College campuses to the south. It provides approximately 90 acres of brownfield land adjacent to residential communities of St Marys Island and Victory Pier.

What is the vision for Chatham Docks?

Our vision for the regeneration of Chatham Docks is to create a world class destination, providing new jobs, new business opportunities and new homes within a unique setting. The proposals will be sustainable and genuinely mixed-use, creating a new community of people who live, work and socialise at Chatham Docks. With new green spaces, access to the waterfront and public transport, together with offering a range of amenities, Chatham Docks will be a thriving, vibrant place.

How many new jobs will be created?

It’s too soon to say definitively but, by the end of 2021 over 750 new jobs will have already been created at Chatham Waters on approx. 14 acres of land from the Asda superstore, the University Technical College and Marstons Pub/Restaurant, as well as part time construction jobs. This is as a result of over £100 million of investment, with a further £500 million to follow, as the scheme is completed over the coming years. Chatham Docks covers 90 acres so, applying a similar level of density, there is potential for the regeneration of this area to create well over 2,000 additional new jobs.

What type of new jobs will be created?

The plans are at an early stage, but there is potential for a significant number of these jobs to be created thorough expansion of the educational sector given the proximity of existing universities, or in the digital sector where Peel L&P has significant experience. This is best seen in our delivery of MediaCity in Salford, which is also a former dock, and is now home to the likes of the BBC, ITV, Ericsson, dock10 and Kellogg’s, and complemented by more than 250 smaller media and digital businesses. These are just some potential opportunities, but jobs will also be created across a variety of other sectors, catering for people with a range of skills.

How will existing jobs be affected?

Peel L&P has initiated discussions with key tenants, and we will work with all parties to help facilitate relocation, to ensure that as many existing jobs (and supply chain jobs) can be safeguarded as possible.

Why can’t the existing facility continue to operate?

As a legacy naval base, the commercial facility (and particularly the lock gates) requires regular and costly maintenance. This was a key reason why the Government closed the docks as a naval port in 1984 and, in this respect, Peel L&P has previously undertaken major refurbishment work and already invested £7 million in 2012 to keep the lock gates operational until the expiry of the existing leases in 2025. However, after 2025, the lock gates will need replacing at a cost of approximately £29 million. This cost has been verified by independent Quantity Surveying company, Gardiner & Theobald.

There is no funding available for this capital investment and it is not viable based on the relatively limited port activity and rental income. The throughput of trade at Chatham represents about 5% of the Medway Ports and there is available capacity at alternative facilities to make up this trade. As a result, it is not viable or justifiable for Chatham Docks to continue as a commercial port beyond 2025.

Expiry of Leases

Most of the leases expire before or in 2025 and are outside the Landlord and Tenant Act where there are no rights to renew. Peel L&P has been legally advised that there are sufficient grounds to oppose the renewal of the few leases that are within the Landlord and Tenant Act so vacant possession can be secured on this brownfield site.

Why are new homes needed?

New homes are a critical form of social infrastructure and all local planning authorities must plan to meet their identified housing requirement to help address the national housing crisis. Councils must identify and maintain enough suitable and available land to deliver at least five years’ supply of homes. Not enough housing has been delivered in recent years to meet the identified need and Medway cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing.

By repurposing and regenerating this large previously developed site close to amenities in Chatham and Gillingham, Chatham Docks will make a significant contribution towards meeting Medway Council’s housing needs and the national housing crisis in a particularly sustainable location and thereby help to safeguard less sustainable and Green Belt alternative sites.

What types of homes are proposed?

The regeneration of Chatham Docks provides an exciting opportunity to create around 4,000 new homes across a range of tenures. This would include family homes, affordable housing, elderly living, build to rent, care and much more.

To date at Chatham Waters on just a part of the former docks, 400 apartments have already been completed (of 950 approved) and applications are due to be submitted soon for 237 affordable homes and for a 75 bed care home for more elderly residents. The overall intention is to deliver new homes and employment opportunities across the remainder of the docks to integrate and connect the existing communities of St Mary’s Island and Victory Pier.

Will new green space be created?

There is an exciting opportunity to introduce major new areas of public realm which could be used by both residents of Chatham Docks and the wider community. The site also currently offers little in terms of habitat due to its industrial use, so it is expected that redevelopment would deliver significant biodiversity enhancement, building on the improvements we have already brought forward at Chatham Waters.

How will transport be managed?

The closure of the commercial dock will result in the removal of the existing HGV traffic, with considerable benefits in terms of reductions in noise, dust, pollution and improved amenity, which we know is of concern for local communities. The proposals will generate a different mix of traffic relating to the new community and jobs created but, through the planning application process, there will be a requirement for significant traffic mitigation and green travel initiatives and measures.

What improvements will there be for cycling and walking?

There are huge opportunities to introduce new routes for walking and cycling, providing 2km of new coast path, giving public access along the riverfront and around Basin 3 for the first time ever. New routes will also be created through Chatham Docks, integrating and extending the new community with St Mary’s Island and the regeneration already taking place at Chatham Waters and Gillingham Pier. Connections to the wider area are also important and it is proposed to create a new green cycle and walking link, connecting Chatham Waters and the surrounding communities directly to Gillingham train station.

Will the development include a primary school and doctors?

This is something that we appreciate will be important to local residents and the proposed redevelopment will be able to provide appropriate education and health facilities or contributions to improve/expand existing facilities if this is more appropriate.