(Pic L-R: Paul Miller, Project Director London Medway, Paul Barker, Port Director London Medway, Gordon Henderson MP)

Peel Ports Group has reached a significant milestone in its Sheerness Master Plan, a 20-year strategy for growth, as construction progresses at its Wellmarsh site.

Wellmarsh lies on the former Thamesteel site which had lain derelict for more than four years after closing operations in 2013.

Wellmarsh represents an early commitment for inward investment in the region of £50million and around 200 new jobs are expected to be created as a result. This is in addition to the 1,640 jobs the port already supports, whilst generating £83million GVA each year.

Plans for the redevelopment of the 50-acre industrial estate were given unanimous approval by Swale Borough Council last year and demolition activities to remove ancillary buildings have since commenced.

The final piece of demolition activity, the levelling of a 32m high building which housed the former melt shop at the Thamesteel site has commenced with DDS Demolition and will be complete by July.

Following this, the site will be developed to support new logistics facilities which will allow for the handling, storage and distribution of commodities such as automotive, steel and forest products.

This includes the construction of a 230m long and 6.5m high bridge across Brielle Way which will connect the Wellmarsh site to the Sheerness Port estate, improving access for customers and reducing port traffic on the public roads.

Representing a £3million investment, construction will start in July and will be handled by Hague Construction. 

As part of its engagement with the local community surrounding the Port of Sheerness, Peel Ports is encouraging people to submit their suggestions for a name for the new bridge, which will be ready by the end of the year.

Members of the public will be able to submit their suggestions online over the next three weeks and a shortlist of entries will be put to public vote.

Paul Barker, Port Director London Medway, said: “Activity to regenerate the land at the former Thamesteel site has been under way for several months and we are about to embark on the final piece of demolition activity.

“This will pave the way for the start of construction work at Wellmarsh. Not only will this allow us to breathe new life into a site  which has lain derelict for four years, it will also allow us to reconfirm our commitment to the future of the region – creating new jobs and investment opportunities.

“We are continually liaising with local residents and businesses as part of our Master Plan for growth, to ensure we create a positive impact on the local area.

“Now we want to give the community a chance to put their stamp on the development by suggesting names for the new bridge, which will become a focus point of the new logistic hub.

“We now look forward to turning our plans for Wellmarsh into a reality and seeing the transformation of Sheerness as a leading deep-water gateway into Europe over the next few years.”

Michael Hennessy, Contracts Manager, at DDS Demolition, said: “We brought a great deal of experience and knowledge to execute the successful demolition of the Melt Shop and further ancillary buildings. We applied bespoke methodology taking into account the former nature of the building, addressing and overcoming the challenges that such an environment created.

“We appointed the right team to the project and the appropriate machinery, including one of the largest high reach demolition machines in the Country. We maintained a good relationship with the client throughout and are pleased to have been part of such a significant project”.

The Port of Sheerness Master Plan details Peel Ports’ strategy for the sustainable expansion of the Port of Sheerness, including improvements in transportation and access as well as increased socio economic benefits for the region.

It includes plans to reclaim up to 183 acres of land for expansion, mixed use developments and a new marina over the next 20 years.

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