It is back to the drawing board for developers wanting to create a motel, pool restaurant and bar out of shipping containers at a picturesque waterfront.
Councillors agreed to defer a decision on two applications for a joint tourism and leisure scheme for the Dover Marina Curve area.
The site is newly created as part of the £250m Dover Western Docks Revival Project along with Marina Pier. It sits at the bottom of the iconic White Cliffs between the new marina, the clock tower and the new cargo terminal that was five years in the making.
Billed as a 24 hour waterfront destination, it is expected to bring in 60 jobs using £8m of inward investment.
But councillors thought the town could be “missing a trick” if the hotel aspect was approved, with the plans for the 90-room motel being the most disappointing component.
With double rooms measuring 5m2 and family rooms being 6m2, the accommodation was thought to be more akin to a hostel according to public objector Mrs J Simmons.
Speaking at last night’s planning committee meeting of Dover District Council, Cllr Edward Biggs said he was excited by the concept but said the motel visuals, showing five three storey blocks and painted white were “like the sort of buildings we would have pulled down years ago.”
Cllr David Beaney felt there had not been enough consultation with the public which would allow the developers to explore other ideas. Because of that he motioned for a deferral.
Cllr Martin Bates was also excited by potential opportunities for the area, but he felt containers are not right for the prime waterfront site, preferring the prospect of a “more quality” product to attract people to stay for longer “and see what Dover has to offer”.
He also agreed there had not been enough consultation with the public and said: “I would like to see them go back to the drawing board, have more discussions about it and see what the whole community is prepared to accept.”
Councillors agreed if they deferred the application for the motel, they would need to do the same for the related application for the swimming pool, restaurant and bar.
They voted unanimously for a deferral. Cllr Trevor Bond, who also sits on the committee, had to leave for the item because of personal interests, being an employee at the Best Western Plus Dover Marina Hotel & Spa at Waterloo Crescent.
Their decision comes after civic group the Dover Society said the scheme was more suited to ports like Rotterdam in Holland. The group fear the hotel accommodation would be so cramped that it would end up being used for refugees and the homeless.
The Dover Society, in a written submission to the council, said it wanted the land re-used but stressed: “To achieve this by construction of a motel and other facilities from shipping containers is totally inappropriate for the site.
“The application clearly regards a commercial port as an appropriate context for such a design but Dover is nothing like Rotterdam and it completely ignores the status of the iconic waterfront setting, which has long been a major tourist attraction.”
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