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PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

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Western Heights Hotel

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Western Heights

Dover

From the Dover Express, 17 February 2005. By Terry Sutton.

Further plans for hotel revealed.

MORE details of the ambitious plan to provide a 250-bed, £45million luxury hotel on the Western Heights, overlooking Dover Straits, were unfolded this week.

Playing a major role in the proposal is Ray Haines, chief executive of Dover Chamber of Commerce, whose organisation has located the hotel development group interested in the concept.

"We have found the group with the money," Mr Haines told the port consultative committee as he detailed the plan that could inject £2-3 million annually into Dover's economy.

A major condition, explained Mr Haines, was that landowner Dover District Council gave it up to the hotel group at no cost.

In return the hotel group would invest that value - about £4million in restoring and maintaining parts of the Western Heights, especially the Drop Redoubt, which was falling apart by the day.

The whole project, he said, depended on a view across the Channel. That limited the site where the proposed hotel could be built.

Originally it was considered the Grand Shaft bowl (where barracks once stood) was ideal but following comments by a preservation group it was possible the hotel site could be where The Citadel now stands, if the Home Office could be persuaded to give it up.

The proposed hotel would have conference facilities which would bring additional income to Dover while the money invested on restoring Napoleonic fortifications on the Heights - "with a few artificial canons" - would make it a greater tourist attraction.

"A four to five-star hotel would also be useful to the port for cruise liner passengers", added Mr Haines, who told of discussions with the Western Heights Preservation Society.

"None of the organisations contacted have been unfavourable to the idea. Much, however, depends on the site and the vision of the hotel and its appearance," admitted Mr Haines.

 

From the Dover Express, 14 July 2005. By Jonathan Holden.

View from Western Heights

IS THIS VIEW WORTH £6m A YEAR?

Ray aims high with hotel on the Heights.

THIS is the view the chamber of commerce believes could bring a £50million five-star hotel to Dover.

Chief executive Ray Haines unveiled his plans for the Western Heights at a meeting of the London Road Community Forum.

He said a site had been earmarked for the 200 to 300-room luxury hotel which would not damage archaeological deposits or stand out against the skyline.

Although it would cater for Pfizer clients as well as cruise and first-class ferry passengers, Mr Haines stressed that would not be enough.

He said: "That in itself will not justify the cost. To make it viable you have to have something else. We have an incredible view from the cliff top - and we do almost nothing with it.

"A top quality hotel on the cliff with a view across the Channel will make the whole thing viable." The idea came, he told last Thursday's meeting, from a visit to Buenos Aires in Argentina, which has a similar landscape to Dover.

Mr Haines said: "Many years ago I stayed at the Hilton there and people kept saying: "You must go to the Sheraton for a drink."

"So we went. They have a similar set-up to here, with a large estuary, docks and cliffs.

"The Sheraton is built on top of the cliffs and the bar is on the top floor. The front wall is one immense sheet of glass with a panoramic view. The docks are lit-up like Dover at night. The bar was absolutely packed, even though they charged nearly £5 for a drink. I believe people would travel from London just to sit and have a drink in the bar."

The original proposals to build on the Old Barracks site between the Drop Redoubt and the Grand Shaft ran into controversy.

Mr Haines told the meeting his revised plans had largely satisfied opponents of the first scheme.

The new site is near the St Martin's Battery car park and Military Road South would either run through the hotel or parallel to it, with the hotel backing on to the cliff.

Afterwards, Mr Haines stressed the final design was by no means fixed.

He said: "It's not settled and I've kept the concept, the planning and the detail very fluid and flexible because we don't want to be committed to anyone route."

A hotel development group has offered to put up the money if a site can be found, but Mr Haines said it was not "a done deal".

He added: "The chamber is putting this forward as a proposal. We would like all the help we can get."

 

Some soothing words for the doubters.

WHILE the hotel plans met with a generally favourable response, with one wag joking he'd like a beer in the bar when the Olympic torch was landed in 2012, concerns were also raised.

Dover Mayor Cllr Ken Tranter cast doubt on a proposal that money generated by the sale of land near the hotel, which would rocket in value, could be used to raise cash for the area's ancient monuments.

Clarendon Street resident Sara Hayman argued that responsibility for the sites should lie with English Heritage. She said: "There would be no incentive to look after them if we bailed English Heritage out."

Fears were also raised that the development could overload the already busy Aycliffe roundabout and bring yet more traffic along the A20. The poor state of Military Road was brought up, although Mr Haines reassured the meeting that the £50million project would include improvements.

London Road resident Henry Matthewson had concerns about the clientele using the luxury hotel.

He said: "I'm uneasy about the whole thing. Is the area going to be filled with expensive cars and arrogant people?"

The meeting ended with Mr Haines offering a tour of the site to "anybody who wants to see it".

 

Comment by Jonathan Holden.

AS A WARM breeze blows across the Channel and the lights of Dover and Calais shimmer in the evening haze, it's not hard see Ray Haines' point.

As views go, it's certainly spectacular, taking in everything from Langdon Cliffs to small and not-so-small points of light dotted across the waterway.

Admittedly, the furtive activity in the four cars parked in the St Martin's Battery car park is a touch disconcerting, and the way several of them vanish just as a police patrol car arrives is rather telling.

Still, unsavoury nocturnal practices aside, it's completely understandable why the chamber of commerce feels this view could bring the massive project to Dover.

Of course, the whole thing is, and Mr Haines is quick to point this out himself, very much in the early stages.

The plans are by no means finalised and, as he is now very much aware, the twin needs of archaeology and maintaining the skyline are essential.

There is simply no way a massive building will be plonked on top of the cliffs. But building it against the chalk, while ensuring it is still high up enough for that all important view, is certainly an elegant solution.

And Mr Haines knows it will fit, because he has been busy chucking bricks attached to long bits of rope off the top to measure it.

His enthusiasm for the project is infectious - even if it is a long shot.

Of course, anything that will bring jobs to the town - and pump an estimated £5-£6million into our economy each year - isn't to be sniffed at.

With the money men already sniffing around, it is certainly not an impossible dream - just a very difficult one.

 

From the Dover Mercury, 28 July 2005.

Talks over hotel plan.

A HOTEL developer is due to visit Dover today (Thursday), to meet officials to discuss plans for a five-star hotel on the Western Heights.

News of the proposed development was revealed in the Mercury in January when Ray Haines, chief executive of Dover and District Chamber of Commerce said serious interest was being shown in the plan.

Derek Holland, from Myers Holland Hotels, will be coming to Dover on Thursday to meet Mr Haines and other interested parties on the Western Heights.

 

From the Dover Express 29 March 2007. By Yamurai Zendera.

Western Heights Hotel

First impressions: Artist's sketch of a proposed £40 million luxury hotel and Conference centre to be built on the Western Heights.

 

Vision of new hotel revealed.

THE first draft image of a proposed £40 million luxury hotel on the Western Heights was revealed this week.

Dover District Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ray Haines has been spearheading the project for more than two years and has now obtained permission to buy an area of land in South Military Road. This would be used as the site for a four or five-star hotel.

Mr Haines, who is working on the scheme under the banner of Dover Hotel Development Ltd with two colleagues, described the land as having "the finest view in south east England."

He said, "This will be fascinating for the people of Dover. It will have an extraordinary unspoiled view of the docks as well as an amazing view right across the Channel to Calais."

Mr Haines said the plan is to build a hotel that puts Dover on the map and bolsters the local economy.

He said: "An hotel of this nature would bring in an income of £5million a year to Dover and employ 200 people.

"It will have beds for 200 to 300 people, and will incorporate conference facilities to accommodate 750 to 1,250 delegates."

He went on to say it would have the biggest conference facilities in Kent.

An important objective, he explained, would be to tap into the lucrative cruise liner market and encourage tourists to stay in the town.

As the Western Heights is a scheduled ancient monument and the site is near to ancient Napoleonic fortifications, Mr Haines and his colleagues must consult English Heritage and talks are due to begin soon.

Various feasibility studies and reports are also needed, at an estimated to cost of about £350,000. A planning application is expected to be made within 18 months. The next step would be to select an hotel operator to run the complex.

Mr Haines said there had been serious interest from the world's leading chains, including Hilton, Sheraton, International Plaza, Ramada and Marriot. He commented: "The emotional appeal is incredible, it can't fail to succeed."

Mr Haines added that although some work has been done on the hotel design, the image shown is only a concept and could change completely.

 

From the Dover Mercury, 6 October, 2011. 70p

SCHEME FOR 1,400 NEW HOMES, PUB AND HOTEL UNVEILED

By Graham Tutthill

A PROPOSED development of the Western Heights and Farthingloe areas of Dover could include more than 1,400 new homes, a pub and a hotel.

China Gateway International director Richard Tilley has written to district councillors asking for their initial reaction to his company's scheme.

Mr Tilley believes an environmental impact assessment will be required for the project before it can proceed.

He said: "Kent is the UK's main Gateway to Europe and Dover is identified as a key driver for growth, enterprise and opportunity.

"Dover is seeking to strengthen and diversify its economy, building on the arrival of the high-speed domestic train service, the coastal community and cultural heritage while promoting environmental and historic enhancement."

The planning application is for a mixed-use scheme at the Western Heights - mainly residential, with park-and-ride facilities at Farthingloe, a hotel, restaurant and pub, country club, village centre and a care home.

A master plan for the whole area of some 300 acres could also include a hotel at the Western Heights together with the proposed national war memorial.

Mr Tilley said the exact number of homes to be built has not yet been fixed, although a maximum of 450 has been suggested at the Western Heights, and a maximum of 1,020 - including 95 "extra care" spaces" - at Farthingloe.

''The objective is to realise the full potential of the Western Heights as a major historical and tourist asset, said Mr Tilley.

"We also aim to create a dedicated heritage trail and country park linking the Western Heights to Farthingtoe for all to enjoy."

He said the scheme should help the regeneration and development of Dover.

And aspects of the plan could help turn the town into a tourism destination in its own right, including a "landmark hotel and conference facility" on the Western Heights.

A sustainable housing development would be established at Farthingloe, with jobs being created in the care home, restaurant, visitor centre and hotels.

As well as consulting with the district council, the company is having talks with the county council, Kent Highways, English Heritage, Environment Agency and Natural England.

The impact the development would have on local roads, including Folkestone Road, Elms Vale Road,. Priory Road, York Street, Military Hill and Townwall Street, will also be assessed.

 

Memorial to fallen

PLANS far a national war memorial on Western Heights were revealed by the Mercury in April 2008. London-based architect and landscape team John Pegg suggested the memorial should be between the Dropp Redoubt and the Grand Shaft. It would consist of 12 large white granite walls bearing the names of the 1.7 million people from the British Commonwealth who died in the two world wars.

 

From the Dover Express, Thursday, 17 November, 2011. 60p

DEVELOPERS RELEASE ITS PLANS FOR THE HEIGHTS

Exclusive by Adam Westgarth

Western Heights Heritage Zone

The Western Heights Heritage Zone.

 

HERE are the first artist's impressions of how the proposed development of Great Farthingloe Farm and western Heights could look, if plans are given the go ahead.

Farthingloe Country Club

Farthingloe country club with its tennis courts

 

The pictures, exclusively obtained by the Express, show a plush county club with landscaped surroundings planned for Farthingloe, as well as a Heritage Zone at the Heights, including a four-star hotel.

Western Heights from docks

Possible view of Western Heights from docks.

 

They are the first images of how the extensive regeneration of the two areas could look if plans by China Gateway International (CGI) are given the green light in the new year.

Benefits

Operations director Rob Prince said: "We're really excited about these regeneration plans and believe they will bring great benefits to
Dover.

Rob Prince

"We're meeting local groups and organisations to let them see what we have planned and to keep them informed and we've had some really good feedback."

The property and investment firm owns 25 acres of land at the Heights and another 275 acres at Farthingloe and is working with Dover District' Council and organisations including English Heritage, the National Trust and the Western Heights Preservation Society.

The company wants to build eco-housing, a park and ride, a four star hotel and conference centre, an elderly care home and plans to regenerate the heritage sites at the Heights.

CGI estimates hundreds of jobs could be created by the project during the construction phase and, once completed, around 880 jobs could be filled at the hotel, country club and other businesses.

Mr Prince added: "This is a big investment on a large scale.

Jobs

"There are a lot of jobs involved too."

As part of the plans, CGl has held early discussions with Dover Town Council with a view to supplying a sports community pavilion with a football pitch and running track in Western Heights.

If councillors agree to go ahead with the deal, the facility would be built on the Parade Ground - owned by CGI - and land owned by the council opposite the former sergeant's mess would be used for new homes.

Town councillor Gordon Cowan told the Express last week that the plans were "too good to turn down."

He added: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we need to take it by the horns and hope all planning permissions come forward."

CGI has said its planning applications for the Heights and Farthingloe are likely to be submitted to the district Council early next year.

 

From the Dover Mercury, 5 April, 2012. 80p

WESTERN HEIGHTS HOTEL WARNING

CAMPAIGNER Lorraine Sencicle is warning the developers who want to build on Dover's Western Heights that they need to take into account that the area has ancient monument status.

Mrs Sencicle said she was interested to read the proposals, by China Gateway, to build a 150-bed four-star hotel on the heights with other facilities.

The scheme includes the possibility of a glass lift being installed at the Grand Shaft and improved access to Drop Redoubt with a new restaurant and cafe bar, tourist information centre, office, shop and workspace for members of the Western Heights Preservation Society.

The proposal is linked with plans for a restaurant, conference centre and care homes at Farthingloe.

Developers CGI put their plans on display in Dover last week and said they wanted to hear what people thought about the scheme before submitting a planning application.

Long hard fight

Mrs Sencicle said she noted there was no mention that the site had Ancient Monument status. “It was I who successfully brought that case back in the late 1980s early 1990s,” she said. “It was a long hard fight not only against Dover District Council but Eurotunnel and a number of hangers-on.

“Nonetheless, the Planning Inspectorate totally agreed that to give permission for any development, however small, would open the floodgates to damaging a major piece of British Heritage.

“The Planning Inspectorate's findings were accepted by the district council without a fight.

“Consequently the Ancient Monument status of Western Heights was shown in the subsequent Local Plans.”

 

From the Dover Mercury, 12 July, 2012. 80p

SAVE OUR HEIGHTS

Protesters fight plans for homes, hotel and conference centre

Heights protesters

OPPOSITION: Lara Pimblett, Katherine Jefferys, Susan Pimblett, Amy Pimblett and Alexander Dimitri collect signatures in the town centre on Saturday.

 

OPPOSITION is growing against plans to develop Dover's Western Heights with homes, a hotel and conference centre.

Hundreds of people signed a petition against the scheme in the town centre on Saturday and English Heritage has now urged district councillors to turn down the proposal.

Local campaigner Lorraine Sencicle organised the petition against the plans by China Gateway International (CGI) with Lara, Susan and Amy Pimblett, Katherine Jefferys and Alexander Dimitri.

CGI has applied for outline planning permission for 85 homes as well as a hotel and conference centre.

Mrs Sencicle has already pointed out that the site is protected as a scheduled ancient monument. She is also opposing the plans for 521 houses and 90 apartments at Farthingloe.

“More than 450 people signed the petition on Saturday, and more signatures are coming in,” she said. “The general strength of feeling was that neither Western Heights nor Farthingloe should be ruined for more housing and that there are plenty of empty properties and brownfield sites in and around the town.

“Many people said there was not enough work in the town without bringing in newcomers.

“Others expressed concern that although CGI have stated that they would invest in the Western Heights, they were unsure how this would improve the town or indeed how this could be regulated.

“A number of visitors signed in the name of the White Cliffs of Dover and the beautiful valleys saying that Dover's natural scenery and fantastic history should be preserved from development.”

Mrs Sencicle said adults under the age of 30 were not impressed that the new homes would be for executives.

Many said they were living with their parents or in poor rented accommodation.

One man who is involved with people whose homes have been repossessed said that in the previous week he had dealt with three such young families.

A spokesman for CGI told the Mercury on Tuesday that the company was still committed to improving the Western Heights.

“CGI are in consultation with English Heritage, Dover District Council and other key stakeholders,” he said.

“We remain committed to bringing forward a comprehensive package of improvements in Western Heights that will allow the area to come forward and contribute in a positive, much-needed way to the regeneration of Dover.”

 

 

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