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"A bolt from the blue": Chatham remembers the day the dockyard closed 30 years ago

It came as a bolt from the blue. The devastating news that Chatham Dockyard was to close after 400 years in operation. The Navy was pulling out and thousands of workers would lose their jobs.

It was a dark day for the people of Medway, but slowly, bit by bit, the town and the dockyard fought back, turning the site into a vibrant business community and visitor attraction. Now, 30 years on, the future is still bright.

Andrea Thomas has been speaking to Philip Lewing, a former engineer at the dockyard, Brian Jenkins, president of the Chatham Dockyard Historical Society and Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.

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Chatham Waters scheme approved

An outline planning application to transform 26 acres of brownfield land at Chatham Docks has been approved by Medway Council.

It could create around 3,500 jobs.

The £650m plans include office space, education facilities, a hotel, apartments, townhouses, landscaped public areas and a food store.

The approval for the scheme comes after two years of discussion with Medway Council and a public consulation in September 2011. Developers Peel Land & Property exhibited plans for the regeneration of the site and met with people to gauge the public’s opinion.

The findings from the consultation revealed that 90% of those questioned were in support of the scheme and over 95% were assured it would give the area a huge boost.

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