Chatham Docks scheme "threatens UK construction"

Basin3 is Peel Waters’ vision for Chatham Docks

Medway Council’s planning committee vote by eight to seven last night to approve plans to close the dock and replace the 18-acre industrial estate with a new office park.

Landowner Peel Waters says that its Basin3 scheme will open up 500 metres of waterfront to the public for the first time in the site’s history, transform the current Chatham Docks Industrial Estate into a purpose-built employment campus and triple the number of jobs on site.

However, steel producer ArcelorMittal said that closing the dock risked creating a rebar shortage for the UK construction industry. Chatham Docks is currently where ArcelorMittal Kent Wire imports and processes reinforcing steel. Peel Waters wants it gone.

ArcelorMittal Kent Wire chief executive Phil Taylor said: “This decision brings the decimation of Chatham Docks and the loss of 800 direct jobs one step closer and it all now rests with the next secretary of state to intervene and stop this threat to the UK construction sector.

“There are many deficiencies within this application and the fact that it was rushed through even with a holding direction in place is shameful. This resolution to grant consent poses a grave risk to our UK operations and the supply of 30% of reinforced concrete steel products to major UK infrastructure projects.

“In an increasingly unstable global world, the necessity of industrial security makes perfect sense, and a continued presence for us at Chatham Docks secures for the UK a vital construction material. The fight isn’t over and we will now be calling on the next secretary of state to do the right thing and call-in this application.”

Peel Waters managing director James Whittaker said: “We are very pleased planning has been approved for Basin3. Our vision for Basin3 will create a dynamic, employment enterprise destination that integrates with existing communities whilst attracting new employers and business to the area, offering much needed, high-quality, new employment spaces for already established Medway businesses, and bolstering Medway’s economic growth.

“Receiving outline planning permission for Basin3 will help attract significant inward investment into Medway. We look forward to helping build an exciting new future and legacy for this employment site in Medway.”

ArcelorMittal says that Peel has a track record of underinvestment in its assets, that it had deliberately failed to look after the dock gates properly and now they are failing is using this to justify closure of the docks.

Peel Waters said that it had invested £125m into its Chatham Waters scheme, building more than 600 homes, a supermarket and a college in the area.

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