Fighting in Parliament to Save the Jobs and Industry at Chatham Docks

On the 1st of May, I had the pleasure of hosting a Westminster Hall debate on the Redevelopment  of Chatham Docks Basin 3. As many of you are aware, Chatham Docks hold immense historical significance for our community and serve as a vital economic hub. Recent developments, particularly the proposal by Peel Waters, have raised significant concerns. This plan threatens the livelihoods of many thriving businesses, including ArcelorMittal Kent Wire, and could lead to widespread job losses and economic setbacks for our area. That's why I've been actively involved in efforts to protect and preserve them.

I have been consistently vocal in my opposition to this proposal. Previously, I had supported the Save Chatham Docks campaign in summer 2022, which set out an alternative vision to create nearly 100,000 square metres of new industrial floorspace, resulting in approximately 2,500 new jobs and leveraged the dock's unique characteristics. Furthermore, I have now raised this issue in Parliament on multiple occasions. Namely, in the 2021 Adjournment Debate on this matter in the House of Commons and used the debate to raise the success of the businesses that currently occupy the Docks. Whilst in January this year, I raised this issue during Prime Minister’s Questions and raised Labours failure to honour their commitment before the election to protect Chatham docks. The Prime Minister echoed my support and urged the Council to adopt a different approach. In addition to my own concerns, there has been significant opposition from local businesses, residents, stakeholders, and Government who are alarmed by the proposals put forward by Peel Ports, with over 170 letters of objection being received from Medway residents and Chatham Docks employees on the current live application.

To give a brief overview of the debate, Chatham Docks has an over 450-year legacy, contributing not only to our maritime history but also to our economy. Hosting nearly 20 businesses, that directly employ 795 people and support another 1,500 jobs through supply chains. This results in huge contributions to our local economy, accounting for over 4% of Medway's Gross Value Added and generating approximately £89 million in Gross Added Value annually. The productivity of its workforce is notably high, with each worker generating around £112,000 of Gross Value Added per year, nearly double that of Medway's average, £64,900. Given these important factors, it is so important we establish a comprehensive development plan that maximises the potential of Chatham Docks, and not only ensures the continued prosperity of this significant commercial asset but enhance its contributions to the broader economy and community.

Therefore, it makes no sense that we'd consider sacrificing high-quality jobs, valuable industry, and essential infrastructure for short-term profit for the Peel landowners and let them go ahead with their plans for Chatham Waters. These sectors are crucial now and will continue to be in the future. I hope with recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) clarifying that housing targets are an advisory starting point instead of being mandatory, this provides more leeway to local authorities, and should ease the pressure on Medway Council to push for housing development at Chatham Docks. Hopefully, they recognise the importance of preserving the commercial port for our local economy. We owe it to our community, workers, and future generations to face these challenges head-on and ensure that we Save Chatham Docks.

I encourage you to read the full debate on this issue through the following link: 

Save Chatham Docks website: Save Chatham Docks - Chatham Docks - London, England

Alternative plan for Chatham Dock: SPPARC Reveal masterplan | Save Chatham Docks