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Medway Council is embarking on an historic partnership with one of Britain’s leading regeneration specialists and property developers that will potentially deliver a massive boost to Medway’s £1 billion regeneration ambitions.

St Modwen Properties PLC has been chosen as the Council’s preferred ‘investment partner’  – an arrangement that could lead to long-term investment to transform Medway into the new city of the Thames Gateway. The partnership – the first of its kind in the Thames Gateway – has been approved by Medway Council’s Cabinet.

St Modwen specialises in town centre regeneration, restoring heritage and the renewal of ex-industrial ‘brown field’ land. It has in the past year obtained more than 50 planning consents for a wide variety of projects including mixed-use developments of mainly redundant industrial sites and has been selected as preferred developer for a number of important projects across the UK including the £350 million redevelopment of Skelmersdale town centre. Last year it boosted its land bank by 807 acres to 7,578 acres, of which 5,058 is developable, and it has 18 town or district centre schemes under its control. Listed in the FTSE 250, it has this month posted record financial results for the fourteenth successive year, announcing a 17pc rise in pre-tax profits to £96 million.

Leader of Medway Council Cllr Rodney Chambers said:

“This is a hugely important moment in Medway’s regeneration story. More than £120 million of public funding has gone into our regeneration programme, with much of it spent of the acquisition and preparation of sites for redevelopment. The project must now be taken forward with private sector money with a programme of investment for the whole community of Medway.

“We have selected St Modwen as our preferred investment partner because of its strong track record in major regeneration projects and its strong belief in Medway’s immense potential as the biggest region of the Thames Gateway.”

St Modwen was selected from a short-list that included some of the world’s biggest property investors after the Council’s regeneration unit Medway Renaissance advertised for investment partners in the Financial Times nine months ago.

Brian Weddell, Head of Medway Renaissance, said:

“We now need to work with St Modwen to establish the working details of the partnership. These have been discussed over the past months and provide a major opportunity for both parties. We expect the partnership’s work to stimulate significant interest from other developers and house-builders as they seek to capitalise on the regeneration opportunities within Medway. It will be a 50/50 partnership with both sides having equal representation, contribution and benefits from the arrangement.”

St Modwen will work with the Council across a range of regeneration projects set to transform Medway into a prosperous new city of 300,000 people. Chatham will be the city’s heart with a stunning new waterfront and some of the best shopping in the south.

Tim Seddon, St Modwen’s London and South East Director, said: “We are delighted to be Medway’s preferred regeneration partner for what will become one of the highest profile projects in the South East over the next decade. The area has significant potential, not least in its history and heritage, the university offer and its highly attractive river front setting but also in its communications. Being situated so close to the M2 and with the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link domestic services due to commence in the not too distant future, there is every reason to believe that the area will be at the forefront of economic change in the region.

“The appointment is a recognition of the company’s strength and reputation in partnering local authorities and other public sector organisations. We have a demonstrable track record that clearly proves we do deliver.”

Judith Armitt, Chief Executive for the Thames Gateway said:

 “Having St Modwen as a major investment partner in Medway will give a massive boost to the area. With over £100 million of our investment in transport, brownfield development and the Universities at Medway to name but a few projects, Medway is fast becoming a new cohesive city.  I am pleased to see this public sector funding unlocking opportunities for private investment, and that St Modwen are investing their own regeneration expertise into the Thames Gateway.”

Cabinet approval for the preferred investment partnership comes just days after Irish retail investors BHL paid £93 million for Chatham’s Pentagon shopping centre. BHL plan a major revamp, creating the south east’s biggest retail centre next to Bluewater.

For further information contact:  Tim Seddon of St Modwen (020 7499 5666) or John Ryall of Medway Council  (01634 337159).