Dover Western Docks Revival would see the redevelopment of the Western Docks and creation of more than 600 quality jobs involved in the handling of fresh produce and other cargo for customers using the Port. The vision will provide an opportunity to kickstart the regeneration of the local area and create inward investment opportunities.
Derek Leach, Chairman of the Port and Community Forum, and Dover Society, said:
“The Board’s plans were warmly received by the Port and Community Forum with the possibility of several hundred new jobs, a boost to the local economy and the regeneration of the Western Docks area. The Board is also looking for the support of the community in delivering the project, which I am sure we shall do in any way possible.”
Adeline Reidy, speaking on behalf of The White Cliffs Dover Hotel & Guest House Group, said:
“The dynamic team led by Tim Waggott and new members of the Dover Harbour Board have given Dover a second opportunity to rejuvenate the Western Port, securing future jobs and very welcomed engagement with the local community. The master plan and vision will come with key benefits to business and the district. We congratulate the Board and encourage the people of Dover to support this fantastic initiative.”
A further 140 jobs would be safeguarded by the development of a new cargo terminal, relocating the existing operations from Eastern Docks. The expansion of activity at the Western Docks would enable the Port to accommodate increased ferry passenger capacity at new berths in the Eastern Docks.
Dover Harbour Board has been working on the plans with longstanding customers, including local business George Hammonds PLC, which handles approximately 350,000 pallets of fresh produce a year, accounting for more than a quarter of all the bananas imported into the UK.
James and John Ryeland, joint Managing Directors of George Hammonds Plc, said: “We were consulted in the run up to the announcement and are fully committed to working with the Dover Harbour Board (DHB), other stakeholders, and trade customers to generate a financial model that provides a sustainable and viable future for a multi user cargo facility. It is ironic that we would be going full circle back to the Western docks, but this zone would deliver space, multiple sheltered berths, much improved access and the opportunity to directly interact with other complimentary businesses, such as ripening and packaging services. We would not wish to imply this will be an easy project to deliver but there has been a significant and positive shift in the attitude of the DHB to drive the Port forward. We are delighted to have been included in developing this opportunity, which will both generate further employment and invigorate the local economy, something we all agree Dover is in desperate need of.”
They added: “They are encouraged to hear of the proposed regeneration of the Western Docks. For some 25 years, the business has been tempered by only having one berth available and an extremely tight operating area at the Cargo Terminal. The business has been in strong growth over the last 3 years with both temperature storage and container space stretched to capacity. Hammond have just completed the build of a new temperature store at a cost of £1.2m, seen as an essential move to provide security for the increased trade projections.”
Since the launch of the vision at the Port and Community Forum, the Board has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), acting as a notice that the Port of Dover is planning the investment in a major redevelopment project estimated at £100-£120 million. It will allow the Port to start an early engagement process for interested contractors/suppliers with a view to obtaining further market feedback and finalising its business plan.
Port management are maintaining dialogue with the potential customer partners who are crucial to the success of this project and who will use the facilities in the future. The team participated in Fruit Logistica 2014, the most comprehensive trade exhibition for the international fresh produce sector, where Dover Western Docks Revival was welcomed by the current and future users of the cargo facilities in Dover. Non-Disclosure Agreements are already in place. Discussions have also taken place with funding partners and there is a good opportunity to secure a funding contribution to the project, which fits with the wider East Kent regeneration agenda.
Most importantly, the Board wants to continue to speak to the community, stakeholders and customers to develop the vision and outline all the milestones that need to be achieved. A presentation and discussion regarding the vision was well received at the recent Dover Marina Berth Holders Representatives Meeting.
Andrew Pires, Dover marina user and Berth Holder representative, said: “Dover Western Docks Revival represents a fantastic commitment to Dover’s marina, which is greatly valued by berth holders. The prospect of a new marina in the harbour and the associated waterfront regeneration will provide a wonderful future facility and create an ambience that will attract even more visitors to the area.”
The Board is also clear that a project of this scale and delivery of this shared vision will require careful consideration and input from various partners and employees.
Yvonne Buddle of Port of Dover Staff Association (PODSA) said: “The feedback received from PODSA members shows they are looking forward to seeing this project materialise in the near future. Many employees are really excited about this opportunity and are keen to be involved in its delivery. The general feedback from colleagues is ‘let’s get on with it and get it done!’. We all feel it is an excellent idea for both the Port and the town in enhancing Dover’s economy and supporting our community. We really hope that everyone gives this development the support it deserves. Let’s make Dover beautiful and prosperous.”
Tim Waggott, Chief Executive of Dover Harbour Board, added: “Dover Western Docks Revival would protect long-term port capacity, create much needed jobs, and enable the transformation of the Dover waterfront with a new marina boosting the local visitor economy. Recognising the role that Dover plays in the nation’s economy and commitment to a prosperous town, Dover Harbour Board is supporting the work of Kent County Council, Dover District Council, and South East Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver growth and regeneration in a strategic manner.