Home Local News Meeting over closure of Co-Innovation Centre in Stembrook, Dover, district council invite

Meeting over closure of Co-Innovation Centre in Stembrook, Dover, district council invite

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Traders are holding a crunch meeting as time runs out for their premises.

The Co-Innovation Centre closes in mid-August,when the lease runs out and the occupants have nowhere else to go.

Opening of new gallery by artists John Crofts, Amy Wright, Danielle Vitruvian, and David Segrave. Co-Innovation small business centre, Stembrook, Dover CT16 1PF. 010220 Picture: Alan Langley..... (44957348)
Opening of new gallery by artists John Crofts, Amy Wright, Danielle Vitruvian, and David Segrave. Co-Innovation small business centre, Stembrook, Dover CT16 1PF. 010220 Picture: Alan Langley….. (44957348)

The public meeting, which Dover District Council has been invited to attend, is at 7pm on Thursday at the site in the town’s Stembrook.

Robin Burkhardt, who has an antiques and collectors’ business there, said: “The project in two years helped to put nine small businesses onto the high street.

“I have read about the Vera Lynn park project.

“I’m not saying that Vera Lynn is not important to Dover but I’m asking why DDC will fund a park rather than support a project that they were involved with in the start.

Co-Innovation formally opened in 2019, was for start-up businesses.

Members of the district council have been invited to the meeting
Members of the district council have been invited to the meeting

They would then, grow and move on to their own premises, so filling the town’s many empty shop units.

It was set up by Dover Big Local and the building was let by the council on a peppercorn rent.

Mr Burkhardt said that at its peak, at the end of 2019, there were about 50 fledgling businesses there.

Now there are only 25 or more, with the pandemic contributing to several of them folding.

A petition was raised in February calling for the centre never to close while coronavirus was rife.

Happier times. Market manager Jan Shepherd when the centre was formally opened in 2019. Picture: Paul Amos
Happier times. Market manager Jan Shepherd when the centre was formally opened in 2019. Picture: Paul Amos

Jan Shepherd, manager at the centre. “The project grew beyond imagination, It was a great success.

“But this is now too close for comfort and we only have six weeks left.

“We need funding in principle to secure a building otherwise the project could not go further forward.

2Dover MP Natalie Elphicke has also been invited to the meeting.

Kent Online has asked Dover District Council to comment on the situation,

But when the issue was first raised in February it stressed that the centre was meant to be a short term project.

This was while pans were worked out for the long-term redevelopment of the site.

It said it had been known to parties that the lease would end in August.

The council is contributing to efforts to produce a statue and ampitheatre in memory of Dame Vera, the wartime singer who died 12 months ago.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Dover Sam Lennon



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