Major New Developments in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter
Autumn 2015 brings a major new phase of regeneration work to the old town area. Spurred by a wave of interest in Folkestone’s thriving Creative Quarter, several buildings that have presented some of the biggest challenges in terms of future use and state of deterioration will now be extensively reconfigured, refurbished (and in some cases reconstructed) to create new living, working and retail spaces. It is planned that work will begin later this year, subject to the usual planning consents.
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust owns the buildings and is funding the work to a value of around £7 million. Generally the buildings are in a very poor state of repair, having been neglected for decades, and in many cases have been badly repaired and configured, causing damage to architectural features and creating difficulties for access and maintenance.
Project Director Gabrielle Wilson of the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust said: “We have an excellent team of professional designers working to create imaginative and durable buildings which will be very attractive to creative people wanting to relocate to Folkestone. All these buildings should be ready by the time of the next Triennial Exhibition in 2017.”
Up to 24 new residential units are planned, in a range of small houses and flats, some with their own studio spaces to suit potential tenants in a variety of circumstances. This will help to further strengthen the residential community that has been growing so quickly in the old town over the past few years. In addition, 13 new spaces will be created that can be used as offices, cafés, shops or for education, depending on demand. New features will include roof terraces at some of the properties, and lift access to one of the buildings containing 8 flats.
The architect for the project is Gordon Abbott, of Pringle Richards Sharratt, who said: “This is a significant step for the ongoing regeneration of the Creative Quarter, the most extensive work since the renovation of The Glassworks nearly ten years ago. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to bring these lost buildings to life again and offer great spaces for people to enjoy. Tackling these buildings creates benefits not just for future tenants, but also for those who live in and visit the area – improving pedestrian connections and the urban fabric of the quarter.”
Proposals include amendments to some of the buildings that back onto each other in Tontine Street and The Old High Street, so as to increase the accommodation available, improve access and re-orientate the buildings towards Payers Park, which underwent its own £1.5 million regeneration as part of the 2014 Triennial. All of the buildings are being carefully designed to create new identifiable markers of the investment being made whilst drawing from the heritage of the conservation area and optimising the capacity of the accommodation for the future.
Once renovated, the buildings will be transferred to the control of the Creative Foundation, the independent charity that is dedicated to the regeneration of Folkestone’s old town through developing arts and the creative industries and encouraging engagement with cultural activity. The Creative Foundation already controls 94 buildings, with over 300 tenants, and this latest stage of development has been prompted by the shortage of space available for potential new tenants.