Last Friday the Folkestone Seafront and Harbour Company announced that it will shortly start work on the construction of the first phase of the residential development, close to The Leas Lift and the Coastal Park. This will create the first eighty-four properties in an overall development that will build up to 1,000 new homes. The community contributions from the developer will also help to repair The Leas Lift and to support the NHS and GP practices in central Folkestone. It is excellent news as well that a local building firm, Jenner Contractors, will be leading on this project. Not only will the development be good for the local economy but it will be supporting jobs in our area directly during its construction.
This announcement has been many years in the planning, and marks the start of the final, but most important, phase in the regeneration of Folkestone harbour. Thanks to the investments made by Roger De Haan we have seen substantial investment in the Folkestone old town, establishing the creative quarter, and in the restoration of the former harbour arm and station. This has created popular public places for people to enjoy, the kind of which are only normally established after a major residential building scheme has been completed. In Folkestone we have had the benefit of seeing this investment up front. The building scheme on the seafront is a project that has been debated since the ferry port closed in 2001, and now that it’s underway it sends a positive message to others who might be looking to invest in Folkestone. This summer, with the planned Triennial arts festival, the expected opening of the urban sports centre in Tontine Street, and the commencement of this new development, we can really showcase so much of the excellent investment that has come to the town.
In Parliament last week, both Houses of Parliament passed the European Union Withdrawal Bill without amendment, and it received Royal Assent by Her Majesty The Queen. This means that we have delivered on our promise at the General Election that if we won with an overall majority in the House of Commons we would make sure that the United Kingdom left the European Union by the end of this month. This has now been achieved and we will no longer be an EU member state from Friday this week. We will then be able to start the process of negotiating our future trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, which will start at the end of this year. It has been a lengthy and at times testing process since the referendum in 2016, but at last we have delivered on its result. Boris Johnson has achieved the key breakthroughs since he became Prime Minister, both in renegotiating the withdrawal agreement, and then winning the backing of the people in a general election to carry it through.