Introduction

Welcome to the Folkestone Seafront site. The following pages explore the proposals and principles that will help shape the future of the Folkestone Seafront. We want it to be an attractive and vibrant place that attracts visitors and provides recreation and enjoyment for local people. Outline planning application has been secured from Shepway District Council for the development of up to 1000 homes, public spaces and a range of sports and recreation amenities.

Folkestone Harbour Company commissioned leading architects Sir Terry Farrell & Partners to draw up the Masterplan for this redevelopment and public consultations took place during 2010 and 2011. Over 3000 people took part in the process, with 72% expressing their approval with the approach taken.

The ambition was to build upon the substantial regeneration work that has been taking place in the area, including the development of the Creative Quarter in the Old Town, the renowned Folkestone Triennial public art exhibition, the public interactive fountain and Mark Sargeant’s Rocksalt restaurant. . These improvements have already made the harbour area more attractive to visitors and residents, bringing benefits for the local economy.

Designing a strategy to develop Folkestone's Seafront has been complicated by the global recession, the depressed housing market and local planning issues, including inadequate connections with other parts of the town.

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Consideration has been given to the opportunities might be afforded by using the route of the former branch railway line. The short harbour branch line was built in the 1840s to link with ferries operating from Folkestone harbour. Passenger ferry services from Folkestone ceased operating in 2000, principally because they could not compete with routes via Dover and Eurotunnel, especially after the abolition of duty free shopping in the late nineties. This was a commercial decision by Sea Containers, who operated the ferry link at the time. Regular train services on the branch line ended at about the same time, and Network Rail designated the line “permanently out of use” in March 2012. In November 2013 Network Rail began a consultation process that would lead to the harbour branch being officially closed.

The Folkestone Harbour Company has taken a decisive position in supporting this proposal. There have been seven years of discussions with various parties that have held ambitions to reintroduce trains and ferries, but without any progress. It appears that ferry services are no more viable in 2014 (or in the foreseeable future) than they were in 2001. Without a ferry service, the rationale for train services is much weaker, and despite the assertion that has been made repeatedly that a working railway would have no adverse effect on the harbour seafront development, the economic viability of developing the whole site is finely balanced. Continuing uncertainty over the future of the railway inhibits our ability to attract the developers and investors needed to build and finance the project and deliver the outstanding vision of Folkestone seafront of the future. This vision is embodied in the plans passed unanimously by Shepway District Council and overwhelmingly approved during large scale public consultations in 2010 and 2011. It is time for Folkestone to move forward.

The re-development of the Seafront is a once in a century opportunity and it is critical that we get it right. Considerable time, resource and research continue to be invested in the project. There is an enormous opportunity for Folkestone to benefit from the opportunities on offer, and with the high speed link to and from London and its excellent connections to Europe, the town is at an exciting transitional stage of development. Folkestone’s regeneration has attracted a great deal of national and international attention and other notable developments are either planned or under way in the town.

The outline planning application for Folkestone Seafront, passed by Shepway District Council in July 2013, can be seen here

The results of the public consultation can be found on the consultation page alongside the documented consultation material.

Should you have any questions please contact enquiries@folkestoneseafront.com