A huge development bringing hundreds of homes, a hotel, a supermarket and a conference and events centre to the banks of the River Medway has been given the green light by the government. The striking and ambitious Chatham Waters project at Chatham Docks, Gillingham has been approved by the Secretary of State – a decision that will transform the area and create almost 3,500 new jobs.

Medway Council’s Planning Committee agreed plans the development in July, before it was referred to the Secretary of State for final approval, as it will provide such a huge financial boost to the area. And it has now been announced that the Secretary of State will not be calling in the council’s decision to approve the plans. The 26-acre site known as Chatham Docks will see £650million invested providing an employment-led mixed-use redevelopment.

In all, 1.9 million sq. ft. will be transformed and will include office space, education facilities, an ‘EventCity’ conference centre, and a hotel alongside 950 apartments and townhouses and a supermarket. There will also be a civic square lined by large sweeping parkland boulevards and other open spaces for people to enjoy. Chatham Waters will be built by Peel Land and Property, one of the UK’s leading construction companies.

Peel already owns the land at Chatham Docks and the family run firm have an impressive pedigree. It developed major projects such as Glasgow Harbour and the huge Trafford Centre shopping destination in Manchester. It is also behind the Liverpool and Wirral Waters schemes – a huge plan to invest £10billion redeveloping redundant docks in Merseyside. But perhaps the firm’s most well known scheme is Media City at Salford Quays in Greater Manchester. This huge development has been built to provide a new home for world famous media names including the BBC, ITV and Coronation Street. Salford Quays is also home to hotels, the Lowry and Imperial War Museum North and the University of Salford.

The Media City site itself, where Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport among others are based, has also been used to stage the X Factor. Medway Council will now work with the developers to finalise legal agreements. Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Rodney Chambers, said: “This is a major step forward for the regeneration of Medway and is a clear indication of how the area is growing and continuing to attract significant investment from developers and businesses. “Not only will it create thousands of jobs for residents in the near future, but it will provide opportunities for future growth and unrivalled facilities for residents and visitors alike to enjoy and benefit from.”

James Whittaker, Development Director at Peel said: “We’re delighted the Secretary of State has approved outline plans for Chatham Waters. The plan will regenerate and breathe new life into a significant area of the dockland and give the region a real economic boost. We will now continue preparing detailed plans for the first phase and we hope to be start building on the site next year.”