Original article from Kent Live
Dover's brand new Marina Curve has opened to the public.
A £250 million scheme called the Western Docks Revival began several years ago.
Its key commercial aim was to move and expand the Port of Dover's cargo terminal.
In the background, the Harbour Board stood accused of long neglecting the town that stands next to it.
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It meant that as part of the Western Docks plans, a major scheme was put forward for the community.
The new marina and marina curve was championed as a game changer for Dover, a major regeneration project that could transform the fortunes of the town.
It involved moving the old marina next to the A20 to the main seafront.
Adjacent, a huge concrete curve would hold shops, bars and restaurants that overlooked yachts and other small boats.
Computer-generated images had it looking like a scene from Monte Carlo or Puerto Banus.
However it eventually became clear any new commercial units would only become reality if they were funded by the private sector.
The news raised a few eyebrows at the time.
The Port of Dover said that instead, pop-up food and drinks stalls would go up allowing the Marina Curve to be market-tested, potentially encouraging bricks and mortar to follow.
It wasn't exactly Monte Carlo – but it had the potential to be a vast improvement on one of Kent's least vibrant seafronts of all.
Which takes us to here and now.
Pretty – but pretty big problems too
The Marina Curve opened to the public for the first time last week, and MyDover went to check it out.
The first impression is that it is a very nice public space.
It has been finished beautifully – curved lines of different colour paving, cobbled areas, huge flower beds, modern benches, old-world street lights.
It looks great.
The clock tower building seems to have been nicely restored, even if the time wasn't right on the clock itself.
There's also a new public toilets block, something Dovorians will note is a special cause for celebration on its own.
But here are the problems – and they are pretty big ones.
Firstly there are still no boats in the marina.
As we reported last year, tidal modelling carried out prior to the development turned out to be inaccurate, so it is still not safe to keep boats there.
The Port of Dover says it's fixing the problem, but it's a massive one and it's taking a while.
The second big problem is that there are still no food or drink offers, even of the pop-up variety.
Rumour has it the Port has at least one street trader lined up, but a spokesman would only tell us: "We are working on various options for recreational use of the Marina Curve/Clock Tower Square area, and hope to make an announcement soon to let the public know what will be there for the summer."
Someone should tell them that summer has basically already begun.
And so has the life of their flagship community project the Marina Curve.
In the meantime, the curve is just a vast expanse of concrete.
Once you get past the new Clock Tower square part, you see the other two thirds of the Curve is a desert of gravel too.
Presumably this is where the new mixed use developed containing a hotel, gym and swimming pool will eventually go.
The plans involved buildings made of shipping containers (not very Monte Carlo either, by the way).
They were widely criticised, even described as a "monstrosity" by the Port of Dover's own community director Neil Wiggins.
Dover District Council's planning committee deferred the decision, telling them to go away and come back with something a little more ambitious.
The spokesman told us: "We are continuing to work with developers in order to find a suitable solution that addresses previous comments received from local stakeholders whilst promoting employment opportunities for Dover.
"We look forward to a further submission being made in due course."
So there you have it.
No boats, no food or drink stalls, no hotel. And no dates either.
What is clear is the Marina Curve has the potential to be a very special place indeed.
The new public square is beautiful, and the marina pontoons look beautiful too.
Both enjoy one of the most stunning backdrops imaginable – the White Cliffs, Dover Castle, a busy ferry port, a golden beach, the glistening English Channel.
There's no doubt that one day, this spot could be one of Kent's very best.
For now, it is simply a rather eerie one.