After more than a year of wrangling a deal has been announced to pump an extra £6.6 million into Gravesend as part of the major scheme to renovate the Heritage Quarter.
The final deal struck between developers and Gravesham Council will see additional funding provided for infrastructure to accommodate the £120 million scheme.
The deal has been more than a year in the making after the plans to redevelop the Eastern Quarter, Western Quarter and St Andrew’s Gardens were first given the go ahead in April last year.
Richard Hughes, who is managing the scheme on behalf of developers Edinburgh House, hailed the deal as a major step towards getting the development built.
He said: "We’re delighted we have reached an agreement with the council and the permission has now been granted.
"We believe the plans for the Heritage Quarter’s regeneration will be a huge boost to the town, helping the local economy, providing homes and offering residents and visitors high quality and varied retail and leisure facilities.
"We look forward to the seeing the plans take shape and the investment into the local community."
The Section 106 Agreement earmarks £3.2 million for affordable housing, £515,000 for highways and public transport £2 million for additional parking in the town centre.
This could go towards redeveloping the existing Lord Street and Parrock Street car parks, with the potential for multi-storey parking facilities and new shops and businesses.
But this will be no good for traders at Gravesend Borough Market, according to Aspinall's Pet Supplies stall owner Jenny Aspinall.
She says her business relies on the adjacent car park but that is set to be dug up in October to be replaced by an underground facility with extra spaces for permit holding residents at the expense of shoppers.
She told News Shopper: "That is too far away for us. We need it adjacent like it is now.
"I would rather it wasn't going ahead."
The deal has been attacked by civic group Urban Gravesham as being far less than what the council hoped to get when the scheme was approved at a contentious regulatory board meeting in April 2013.
The group claims a draft of the agreement drawn up at the time sought more than £9.1 million worth of funding, meaning the council has secured less than three quarters of what it was reportedly aiming for.
But the council says it has secured 92 per cent of what it was after, which was £7.2 million rather than the £9.1 million put forward by Urban Gravesham.
Now planning permission for the scheme has definitively been granted, Urban Gravesham has six weeks to decide whether to mount a High Court challenge.
Where the money will go
- £3.2m for additional affordable housing in Gravesham (not on the Heritage Quarter site)
- £2m towards car parking in the town centre
- £515,000 for roads and transport, including signage, public transport and public realm
- £324,000 for education
- £230,000 for health services
- £175,000 to support sports and recreation in Gravesham.