A town in Kent, England wants to bet £28 million on downtown regeneration

Sittingbourne is an industrial town situated in the Swale district of Kent in south east England, 45 miles (72 km) from London. The town sits beside the Roman Watling Street, an ancient British trackway used by the Romans and the Anglo-Saxons and next to the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey.

Sittingbourne is growing rapidly, due to a number of large residential developments, and its railway line links to London Victoria and St Pancras International stations.

Now, millions of pounds of public money could be ploughed into the regeneration of Sittingbourne in one of the biggest commercial deals ever entered into by Swale council.

The authority is planning to borrow up to £28 million to spend on the Spirit of Sittingbourne project, resulting in it owning the majority of the new buildings planned for the town centre.

Under the plans, it would own and receive rental income of an estimated £2.1 million a year from a multiplex cinema, four restaurants, a hotel and three retail units.

The bold move was unveiled in October of 2016 by Tory cabinet member for finance Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley, who said it was the start of the council’s plan to become self-sufficient in terms of funding.

We suddenly realised we could get ourselves more involved with the project,” Cllr Dewar-Whalley said. “The door suddenly opened. This could be a kick-start for our strategy of becoming self sufficient.

The proposal to borrow up to £28 million is due to go before the council’s Cabinet on November 9, 2016.

See full article by Steve Waite in Kent Online + image credit.

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