Laker Developments wins revised consent in Dover

Dover District Council Cabinet also agrees preparatory work for Compulsory Purchase Order

Dover District Council took key decisions this week to progress the St James’s development in Dover town centre.  On Thursday (19th December), the Planning Committee unanimously approved the latest planning application for the development, which will create 120,000 sq. ft. of mixed-use retail and leisure with parking for 445 cars.

The revised planning application reflected amendments to the scheme, most notably the change of use brought about by the Cineworld agreement to lease and operate a 21,000 sq. ft. six screen cinema as part of the development.

Last week, Marks & Spencer announced they had signed up as the anchor retail tenant at St James’s with a 16,000 sq. ft. M&S Simply Food store.  Further announcements about future tenants are expected in the New Year.

Following the Planning Committee’s decision, a Special Meeting of DDC’s Cabinet was held today (20th December) which authorised Council Officers to proceed with preparations for a potential Compulsory Purchase Order for land not currently in the Council’s ownership.  In addition, Cabinet also agreed the preparatory work that would see the permanent closure of Russell Street at its junction with Townwall Street.

Cllr Paul Watkins, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “There is real momentum behind this landmark development for Dover town centre with two exciting anchor tenants now signed up. Today we have taken key decisions to enable work to start on the development as soon as is practically possible.  Discussions to secure agreement with third party land owners are ongoing.”

M&S Signs for St James scheme

Dover revised image


The St James development in Dover received a major boost this week with the news that Marks & Spencer has signed as the anchor retail store. This deal follows hot on the heels of Cineworld signing an agreement in September to lease a six-screen, 21,000 sq ft cinema at the scheme. M&S has agreed to lease a 16,000 sq ft unit following lengthy talks with Laker Developments, in partnership with developer Bond City, funder Stonehurst Estates and Dover District Council.

Richard McGibbon, development manager at Laker Developments, said: “Signing a retailer of the calibre of Marks & Spencer soon after Cineworld gives the St James scheme fresh impetus. We now have two very strong anchors for the development, providing the catalyst for the next stage of marketing. Negotiations are already well underway with restaurant operators for the units alongside the cinema.”

Cllr Paul Watkins, leader of Dover District Council, added: “Securing M&S and Cineworld at the St James development is a major step forward in our plans for the town centre. The deal with M&S represents an important commitment from the retailer to Dover at a time when it had been reviewing its options, including whether to exit the town. We are confident that this will open the door to further investment as other retailers follow suit.”

M&S’ existing Dover store in Biggin Street will close following the relocation to its new site.

Laker Developments has also submitted a revised planning application for the development to accommodate the new cinema and three restaurants, a decision on which is expected before the end of this year. Once planning consent has been granted, a compulsory purchase order will be submitted to the Secretary of State for the small portion of the site not under the control of the developers.

St James totals 120,000 sq ft of mixed-use retail and leisure with parking for 445 vehicles within the Dover Town Investment Zone. It will provide 18 retail units on an eight-acre site bounded by Castle Street to the north and Townwall Street to the south.

The aim is to commence construction towards the end of next year for completion in summer 2016.

Jones Lang LaSalle and Stephen Buckle & Co acted for Bond City in the Marks & Spencer deal; Jones Lang LaSalle and Prime Retail advised Bond City on the Cineworld deal; MMX Retail acted for Marks & Spencer; Wareing & Partners advised Cineworld.


Laker signs Development Agreement in Dover

The signing of legal agreements between Dover District Council and development partners Stonehurst Estates and Bond City means the project has reached a stage further than ever before since it was first identified for retail in 1997. The Development Agreement lays out the obligations of each party and runs alongside hotel and retail leases and the car park management agreement that details plans to run the St James’ site parking area on the same basis as Sainsburys in Deal where motorists can park for the DTIZ and to use other parts of the town.

Planning applications, one for the 100-bed Travelodge hotel and the other for about 15 shops, up to 12 flats at Castle Street, a restaurant town square and parking is expected to be submitted in just days. Mr Ingleton said: “It is the council’s desire to see an early grant of planning consent, probably in the early spring.”

John Laker, of Bond City, said: “We have continued to make significant progress and look forward to moving on to make the St James development a success for the town of Dover, delivering exciting new retailers in a town centre environment.”

Mr Ingleton said: “It really was a momentous day. It signifies the developers’ confidence in the scheme and we are now looking forward to this moving forward expeditiously. “The next stage is the imminent submission of the planning applications.”

DDC leader Paul Watkins said: “This is a very significant step forward. We have put a legal framework in place and we now look forward to seeing the submission for planning permission.
“This is an important part of a bigger picture for the district as we continue to work with partners on a growth programme for the future of the area.”