St James’s town centre, Dover

Development advice on planning, feasibility and procurement

OUR BRIEF

The St James’s area of Dover has been promoted as an extension to Dover’s town centre with opportunities for substantial retail, leisure and housing uses. It is a high profile site with an area of 4 ha fronting the A20 Dover port access road, which has been in a run down state for many years. BBP provided development consultancy advice to Dover District Council. Initially, we were engaged to assess viability, subsequently resulting in an ongoing appointment to advise on planning briefs, preparation of a prospectus and marketing of the opportunity, selecting a development partner, negotiating terms and providing continued support through planning, land assembly and legal processes.

OUR APPROACH

BBP worked closely alongside the Officer team, providing development advice, undertaking financial appraisals, helping to secure additional funding (through the South East England Development Agency and the Homes and Communities Agency) and leading the negotiation with the Council’s development partners. We have provided Members’ briefings and reports to the Cabinet and the full Council. Our experience in delivering complex development schemes in areas where viability is marginal has enabled us to provide a seamless service and expert advice, from initial feasibility to the signing of development agreements, acquisition of key sites, securing planning permissions and compulsory purchase procedures to complete land assembly.

OUTCOMES

This proved a challenging assignment: demand from end users and developers was weak, a number of third party property interests had to be acquired to enable comprehensive development to take place and there was a funding gap that need to be bridged to achieve viability. BBP helped the Council overcome a series of hurdles. We led the drafting of planning policies; helped secure over £7 million of funding support to acquire third party property interests; helped the Council secure a development partner and restructured arrangements following the withdrawal of an anchor supermarket. A revised retail-led scheme has been consented and a number of leading UK retailers and leisure operators identified as pre-lets. There is a real belief locally that this important building block can help Dover’s town centre recover and stimulate further investment in a town with an ambitious growth agenda.