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New creative space on Medway’s Historic Dockyard Chatham

25 February 2021

Medway Council, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and the University of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi) has announced the development of an innovative new creative space for Medway.

With construction planned for 2024, the development will result in the conversion of the Homes England-owned Police Section House – a Grade II listed Scheduled Ancient Monument at The Historic Dockyard – into a new 21st Century creative industries’ accelerator space known as The Docking Station. This new development will become a high-quality international creative digital hub that provides cutting edge technologies, performance and training opportunities.

A flagship building designed to inspire future development in the region and beyond, The Docking Station will place creative and cultural industries at the heart of the regeneration plans for the last remaining undeveloped part of the former Dockyard site. Its facilities will include a community café and social spaces, gallery and exhibition spaces, workshops, flexible teaching areas, a state-of-the-art immersive digital interactive space and start-up/accelerator zone.

Already, more than 100 architecture firms have expressed an interest in the design project for the building, which will open in 2025.

A key project within Creative Estuary’s four-year programme to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Essex and Kent into one of the most exciting cultural hubs in the world, The Docking Station project is supported by Cultural Development Fund investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of iCCi, said: ‘We are very excited to be moving to the next phase of this important project. The imaginative new spaces that the building will offer for working, learning and creating are central to the distinctive kinds of work we do at iCCi, and they will be crucial to our region’s post-Covid economic, social and cultural recovery. Docking Station will give the partners and their communities a beacon building from which to create our collective futures.’

Located between the University’s Pembroke campus and the Historic Dockyard facilities, The Docking Station will be home to iCCi, an initiative that aims to equip students with the creative, digital and entrepreneurial skills required by a thriving, dynamic cultural sector.

It will provide creative businesses and young people from existing and new communities across the region with the co-working and creative spaces they will need in a post-Covid-19 environment; stimulate and inspire collaboration between future generations of digital entrepreneurs and creatives; facilitate greater industry engagement and educational opportunities; and enhance Medway’s strategic repositioning as a Creative City.

The Council, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and University see The Docking Station as a key opportunity to support the delivery of Medway’s new Cultural Strategy, which sets out the area’s vision to develop and improve its cultural offer, as well as provide more opportunities for Medway’s residents. The ambitious 10-year strategy also sets out Medway’s aim to be nationally and internationally recognised for the area’s creativity and culture, including its ambition to become UK City of Culture in 2025.

About the partners

The Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi) is a pioneering, cross-discipline department at the University of Kent. It is home to a diverse community of academics, art professionals, students and business leaders who believe that creativity can change the world. It is a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England and members of the Creative Industries Federation and Immerse UK. It celebrates creativity, promotes creative courses, supports Kent’s students, alumni, regional businesses and creative industries, highlighting the outstanding, creative research happening across the University’s campuses. Further information.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham has over 100 buildings and structures, including 47 Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The site is in the stewardship of the independent charity, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust (No. 292101). The Trust’s dual objectives of education and preservation are achieved by a strategy of preservation through reuse. Some of the buildings are open to visitors; others are occupied by residential tenants, businesses, and faculties of the University of Kent.

As a fully accredited museum, the Trust collects, preserves, researches and exhibits objects and materials connected with the history of the dockyard and its people. It studies the development of Royal Navy warship design, construction and the use of the River Medway by the Royal Navy. The Historic Dockyard Chatham presents unrivalled status as the most complete and best-preserved dockyard of the Age of Sail anywhere in the world. Further information.

Medway Council is an innovative unitary authority, made up of five towns: Chatham, Rochester, Gillingham, Strood and Rainham. The council provides all local government services for over a quarter of a million people and is continuing to drive forward its ambitious regeneration programme, providing more opportunities and facilities for its residents and businesses. Medway Council is committed to doing all it can to help keep Medway a great place to live, work, learn and visit for now and in the future. Further information.

Creative Estuary has a vision to forge a new future founded on creative energy and innovation, along the length of the Thames Estuary. The project is supported by The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and led by the University of Kent, on behalf of a consortium of public sector and cultural organisations. They include the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, the Greater London Authority, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), University of Kent, University of Essex, Locate in Kent and cultural organisations Metal and Cement Fields.

In early 2019 the University of Kent was awarded £4.3m from the DCMS Cultural Development Fund on behalf of the partners. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England. Further information.

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