Home Local News Multi-million refurbishment of Dover Discovery Centre edges closer

Multi-million refurbishment of Dover Discovery Centre edges closer

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A multi-million pound refurbishment of a landmark building in a town centre looks has set to happen in the next few months.

Dover Discovery Centre is expected to undergo a major transformation and could include a new education centre and archive facility.

The Dover Discovery Centre. Picture: Google Maps
The Dover Discovery Centre. Picture: Google Maps

The Market Square building, which has recently been used as a coronavirus asymptomatic test centre, is likely to be reconfigured to allow for Kent County Council’s (KCC) children services team to relocate there in £7.45million plans.

Kent council chiefs seek to create a new education room and walk-in archive facility, with better access to historical records in the adjoining museum.

Dover council’s scrutiny committee reviewed the proposals on Monday, before councillors unanimously agreed to contribute £700,000 towards the project.

Cllr Charlotte Zosseder (Lab), chair of Dover council’s scrutiny committee, said: “It is great that KCC are finally focusing on Dover. I think this will be really good and help to bring in more people.”

KCC, who purchased the former White Cliffs Experience site 20 years ago, have sought to enter a financial agreement with Dover District Council (DDC).

Cllr Charlotte Zosseder (Lab), hopes the move will bring more people to Dover. Stock picture
Cllr Charlotte Zosseder (Lab), hopes the move will bring more people to Dover. Stock picture

The building originally closed in 1999 and had formerly highlighted the town’s history, covering eras such as the Roman occupation and Second World War.

Supporters hope the revamp will bring increased financial footfall to the town.

At a virtual meeting on Monday, Roger Walton, Dover council’s strategic director for operations, said: “We are trying to get the best out of the arrangement in terms of heritage and historic aspects of the site.

“The proposals include improved viewing of the archaeology on either side and archaeology which is tucked away underneath the building.”

Critics have questioned whether the refurb represents value for money.

The Dover Discovery centre as seen from Dover Castle. Picture: Phil Houghton
The Dover Discovery centre as seen from Dover Castle. Picture: Phil Houghton

Dover Cllr Mark Rose (Con) suggested the site should be demolished entirely and restarted from scratch.

He told the panel on Monday: “I detest the building and its architecture, I think it is awful looking, the only thing I discovered about it.”

In response, Mr Walton revealed that County Hall bosses have explored all potential options, but plans to demolish the building have been discarded.

This is due to a commitment to protect the Roman archaeology underneath the centre’s dome. Financial costs would also be much higher than the planned investment.

Meanwhile, Dover council’s vice-chair, Cllr Susan Beer (Lab), said she believed the town hub was “one of the nicest buildings in the town” in terms of design.

‘I detest the building and its architecture, I think it is awful looking…’

Proposals will be discussed further in June during a virtual meeting of KCC’s policy and resources committee, with a full planning application to follow.

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Business News Corporate & Finance Dover Kent Politics Ciaran Duggan, local democracy reporter



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