Joy as Canterbury receives news of £22 million boost to city centre
Canterbury will benefit from £22 million in investment that will reboot its position as a global heritage destination and transform the city centre.
Late last night (Wednesday 18 January), the government announced it was awarding the Connected Canterbury: Unlocking The Tales Of England project £19,905,911 with the remainder being made up of match funding from the city council.
The project is designed to make the most of the city’s history and heritage, revitalise its public spaces and build on the past to bring even more success in the future. It includes:
- bringing Canterbury Castle which dates from 1085 and its grounds back to life and open for the public to enjoy once more
- paying for vital repairs to The Marlowe Kit in the former Poor Priests’ Hospital in Stour Street, part of The Marlowe Trust’s capital project to preserve the building with its mediaeval Great Hall and chapel for future generations while turning it into a creative learning centre for young people and a free-to-enter heritage destination with an event space and a riverside cafe
- breathing new life into each end of the high street by creating an occasional events space in Westgate Square close to the Westgate Towers and revitalising the area around the Clock Tower in St George’s Street
- transforming the bus station and St George’s Lane to make it a green entry point into the city by being made more pedestrian friendly, a much nicer place for bus passengers and introducing more plants, tree and pollinators
- investing in the car parks at Castle Row, St Radigunds and Longport to introduce electric vehicle charging, docked cycle hire, more trees, better lighting and signs and solar panels
- the introduction of story gardens around the city that bring to life important aspects of the city’s heritage and the nation’s history
- the creation of heritage routes or trails around the city boosted by planting and planters, better surfacing, lighting and signs, augmented reality trigger points and the development of an app. The route along the city wall is one such example
Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, Leader of Canterbury City Council, said: “I am absolutely overjoyed that our Levelling Up Fund bid enabling Canterbury’s Tales of England, the ambitious plan to reboot Canterbury as a global heritage destination, has been fully funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
“We can now begin the hard work of executing our vision to deliver significant improvements to the city of Canterbury that will benefit residents, businesses and visitors alike, safeguarding our wonderful heritage and telling the Tales of England for decades to come.
“Our interventions at Canterbury Castle, the Westgate, the bus station, the city walls, Dane John Gardens and our routes, parks and open spaces will leave a legacy for our children and our children’s children to enjoy and be inspired by.
“This is a project that will benefit the whole district because it will entice even more people to visit or stay overnight in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable which benefits our economy and creates jobs.”
While officers from Canterbury City Council put in an incredible amount of work to pull the bid together and submitted it to DLUHC, Cllr Fitter-Harding made it clear today’s success is the result of a huge team effort across the city.
He said: “As Chair of Canterbury’s Tales of England Board, which includes vital stakeholders from across the city, I will be working closely with them to ensure that this success is the beginning of a period of significant public and private investment to deliver the wider ambitions of the project.
“Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison MP wrote to us late last night saying ‘You submitted a strong application, which performed well against our assessment criteria, and I was pleased to hear about the projects that you plan to deliver with this investment. I appreciate the hard work that went into the application and am very keen, as I am sure you are, to get delivery and spend underway quickly. Officials will be in contact shortly with your officers to discuss the next steps in the process’.
“We now eagerly await further details from the Government so that we can get to work on Levelling Up Canterbury, for its history, its stories and for all whose futures are intertwined with its success.”
The bid for £13m from the Levelling Up Fund to revitalise Herne Bay by rejuvenating the King’s Hall and the Bandstand, improving the area around the Clock Tower and better connecting the seafront to the town centre was not successful this time around.
Cllr Fitter-Harding said: “While we were not successful this time around and will wait eagerly for feedback, the vision and plans we have pulled together will not be wasted and the project will not end there.
“The government has confirmed there will be future rounds of the Levelling Up Fund cash we can bid for and we will seek out other sources of money while building on other successes such as the £554,000 we secured to help transform the Tivoli site and Beach Street.”
Published: 19 January 2023