Folkestone – £20m Place Plan funding expected this month.

Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) submitted a bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for Levelling Up Fund Round 2 (LUF2) for £19,791,819, in August 2022, to deliver the Folkestone – A Brighter Future scheme.

We wrote about this in April 2022.

The scheme aims to address the issues that Folkestone town centre currently faces with high vacancy rates and an overall poor-quality urban environment. It has been struggling over recent years and has seen a 16% drop in footfall over the last four years which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vacancy rates in the town centre currently are very high at 14.7% and the scheme will aim to reduce this through improved access and public realm. Back in March 2019, our public face highlighted the number of vacant shops. The Folca building (previously Debenhams), which is currently vacant and owned by FHDC, will be refurbished as part of the scheme; though this element will be delivered by FHDC. Folca was purchased by the Council on the 15.05.2020 for £2,050,000.

The Folkestone – A Brighter Future scheme focuses on three key areas to improve Folkestone town centre which are outlined below.

1. Station Arrival and Town Centre Connections:

This element of the project aims to improve the links from the railway station for pedestrians and cyclists to encourage use of active travel and public transport and to improve connections for visitors and residents alike.

2. Improved Gateway to the Town Centre and Bouverie Square:

This component of the project will unlock transformational change around the town centre. The focus will be to reconfigure the main bus station in the town centre and implement changes to the legacy gyratory road system to the north.

3. Folca, Sandgate Road and Town Centre Public Realm:

This element of the project will refurbish the Folca building (the former Debenhams building) into a ‘town lab’ which will encourage and bring new and experimental uses into the town centre. The phased refurbishment of this building will bring a currently redundant building back into use in the town centre and reactivate this part of the high street. It will also improve the public realm on Sandgate Road to encourage footfall in this area of the town centre.

The LUF2 funding decision is currently expected later this month. A grant agreement will be issued to FHDC as the Accountable Body. This will set out the conditions of the funding including deadlines for spending of the grant and delivering the scheme. The bidding documents stated that a condition of the funding was that an element of spend is achieved in the 2022/23 financial year; which leaves FHDC little time to begin the projects above. Kent County Council will act as delivery partner for the transport and public realm elements of the scheme. This will make it possible to proceed at pace with the scheme delivery following a positive funding decision.

Folkestone needs the money as it needs to attract footfall and businesses to fill the vacant shops. We live in hope that the money comes.

The Shepway Vox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1651 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

1 Comment on Folkestone – £20m Place Plan funding expected this month.

  1. If an increase in foot fall is required, bring back the fun fair and Sunday market.

    The atmosphere was great and friendly, people stayed the week end, the shops were full, accommodation, pubs, restaurants all thrived. Businesses in surrounding areas profited, welcoming visitors. Outlying areas such as Dymchurch and Dungeness benefited from the influx.

    The Harbour arm is a nice renovation, but a stand alone idea, drawing people away from town businesses.
    Everyone knows that.

    Destroying The Rotunda and clearing the old fair ground was a greater disaster than German bombs on Folkestone during the war: not well thought through.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: