The Docking Station, the University’s groundbreaking hub for digital creative industries, has moved a step closer to reality as Medway Council planning committee has approved the plans.
The project is led by the University’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi), in partnership with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Medway Council, and is a key part of regeneration plans for the historic waterside site.
Docking Station will be situated on the site of the former Police Section House at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard. It will place creative and cultural industries at the heart of Medway’s regeneration plans and its facilities will harness the power of immersive digital technology to open up new possibilities for young people and the communities of Kent and Medway.
The project will convert the Grade II listed Scheduled Ancient Monument and construct a signature new building in its grounds. The two buildings will work together as one, with a beautifully planted courtyard and elevated walkway linking the spaces.
The facility will house a suite of commercial digital production studios for industry use, a café, gallery and exhibition spaces, plus teaching areas and facilities to support digital and creative start-ups and local creative industries. Docking Station will bring together creative production, support for local businesses, education, innovation and research opportunities as well as a public programme of events and activities bridging the gap between academia, industry and communities.
Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of iCCi, said: ‘We’re so excited to have reached this stage –working with our partners, it allows us to get started on the build now to make a real difference to Medway. Docking Station will provide new ways for young people to gain digital skills, create rewarding jobs in high-value creative and cultural sectors and be a space for the University, community and industry to come together to explore new technologies.’
Multi-award-winning architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios are leading the design of the ambitious project. Luke Gilbert, Associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said: ‘Our refurbishment of the former Police Section House will restore the local landmark and open up the building to the public for the first time, providing amenities for the community and an opportunity to experience immersive performances and world-leading motion capture technology, first-hand in ways that reference the dockyard’s industrial heritage.’
Launched in 2019, iCCi is the University’s catalyst for culture and creativity, working closely with industry, regional communities and national bodies. Alongside Docking Station, the Institute manages the Gulbenkian Arts Centre, the annual bOing! Festivals in Canterbury and Medway and an extensive programme of work with students, young people and researchers.
Docking Station is supported by Arts Council England’s Cultural Development Fund (investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and Levelling Up Fund (investment from the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities) as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Creative Estuary.
Construction is planned to start in Summer 2024 and be completed by late 2025.