As part of the wider regeneration of Folkestone, over 80 homes are being constructed on the site of a former car park on the town’s historic beachfront. Ella Brocklebank and Chris Page of contractor Jenner explain to Jack Wooler how it offers a modern approach for a younger demographic.
Situated at the foot of the Leas Lift and Coastal park on the beachfront of Folkestone, Kent, the £44m Shoreline development is set to be instrumental in the wider regeneration of the area.
Comprising 84 luxury homes, the project brings a mix of apartment living and townhouses to town, all for private ownership.
Constructed with a reinforced concrete frame, the homes are split between two structures at the east and west ends of the site, reaching seven storeys at its highest point, alongside further homes sandwiched between them.
The ends of this structure together offer 60 apartments in total – including penthouse terraces – with the joining central block consisting of 20 townhouses and four duplexes. Private roof terraces are included for the townhouses and penthouse apartments, and all units have the exclusive use of a private communal garden above the undercroft car park, which brings in natural daylight through carefully placed openings to provide a secure and pleasant environment, with EV charging points and sufficient headroom for larger vehicles.
“Undoubtedly,” says Ella Brocklebank, head of communications and business development at main contractor Jenner, “this will be a landmark building for the region – a conceptually modern building, reflecting its generation.”
Maximising the benefits of the striking landscape, each property promises uninterrupted views over the English channel, and the individual homes and wider scheme alike have been designed to be built with quality “unequivocally at their core.”
According to Chris Page, senior project manager at Jenner, the overall masterplan of the development endeavours to create a unique waterfront environment for people to both live and work, while complementing the existing Victorian and Edwardian architecture of the neighbouring region.
“Take a glance at the striking visuals prepared by the scheme’s architects,” says Chris of London-based practice ACME’s designs, which “showcase the development in all its glory.”
“You would be forgiven for believing the new homes were destined for far-off winter climes given its beachscape location, high-rise nature, and glamorous, white-bricked facade, with a definite feel of the new middle east to the building’s style and structure.”
Ella chimes in here: “Creating intrigue and capturing attention from far and wide, the project is bold in its intent and is certainly pushing the boundaries of design and construction.”
AN AMBITIOUS PLAN
The highly bespoke development is the first phase of an ambitious 1000-unit masterplan for Folkestone seafront on behalf of developer client, the Folkestone Harbour and Seafront Development Company, backed by local philanthropist Sir Roger De Haan (founder of the Saga Group). It is intended to revitalise the overall seafront and Harbour Arm promenade area of the town’s ongoing regeneration programme.
“The Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company has been responsible for extensive renovations of the harbour area of the town,” explains Ella Brocklebank.
The Harbour Arm has been open since 2014 and is “one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kent,” she continues. “It’s a wonderful place for visitors and residents to enjoy, and is an integral part of the long-term plan for residential and business premises in the harbour area.”
With planning permission granted in 2018 for the overall masterplan, Jenner Group (one of Kent’s largest regional contractors) were engaged to build this key project in their hometown, delivering phase 1.
Completion is programmed for early 2023, when carefully planned phased handovers will see the new homes ready to welcome their occupants.
“The bold investment – made in a quintessential seaside town – represents regeneration in its truest form, bringing a disused area back to life that will serve to boost both society and the economy, and ensures Folkestone continues its renaissance,” says Ella.
A CONTENTIOUS SITE
Given the project’s prominent location on the beachfront, Chris tells me that Shoreline has been a “contentious” site, with Jenner working “tirelessly” from the outset to overcome the initial opposition from the local community. This was demonstrated by the scheme scoring 43 out of 45 in its latest ‘Considerate Contractors’ score with full marks in the community engagement category.
“By proactively engaging with the community through organised beach cleans and litter picks, alongside regular schools and college engagement, we ensured that we are socially responsible and accountable in our actions,” he says, adding “we have been described as creating an incredibly positive image of construction.”
Formerly, the site housed Victorian amusement arcades, rides and a boating lake before the dilapidated buildings were cleared to allow for car parking space, and the land was subsequently reclaimed and remediated to create the new beach scene in recent years, on which the new homes are now being built.
During excavations, Jenner had to remove quite a few obstructions which had been left below the surface. “Interestingly,” explains Chris, “these included the base of the former boating lake and the foundations for some of the theme rides and attractions.”
“It has been fascinating to recall the former site as we progress with the new,” adds Ella.
“For many locals,” Chris continues, “the area and what it used to resemble was already long forgotten by the time these remediation works were carried out anyway, but for others we often heard that the works had been done so well that it overcame any qualms. He adds that it “sympathetically transformed the area by creating the beach frontage, which was in place prior to construction activity commencing, replacing a mass of concrete slabs and tarmac.”
Given the development’s proximity to the sea, flood risk had to be a “huge consideration” for the team here, but, with remedial works undertaken to recontour areas of the site, and to raise the foreshore, 200 years of possible flooding has been accounted for, minimising future risk for the homes.
“In addition to building well above the water table, where flooding risk is most prominent,” details Chris, “there are a host of measures in place to further protect the area from flooding.”
Under the beach area, for example, which is beyond the boardwalk and closer to the sea, there is an “enormous” sand-filled ‘sock’ that sits 30 metres below the beach.
30 metres deep and 6 metres wide, this structure has been placed to reduce the likelihood of future flooding and was implemented when the client team remodelled the beach, before the boardwalk was installed.
As well as mitigating for potential flooding, Chris says it was key that, “given the likely exposure to extreme weather conditions and highly corrosive salt spray,” the proposed facade system needed to ensure durability while offering a low maintenance system that remains aesthetically pleasing, and thereby “ultimately, posed one of the biggest design considerations.”
“Original aspirations for a crushed glass finish render to create a sparkling finish were shelved for safety reasons, and new options that would offer the same visual impact were explored,” he continues.
As an alternative to rendered insulation, many options were considered, but it was glazed white bricks and a white mortar that were chosen – with the final brick being sourced from La Paloma in Spain.
“Standardised was never going to be an option,” explains Chris, noting the over 24 different specialist bricks required to achieve the complex geometry.
With a bespoke 70 mm high brick, “sourced to respond to the convex and concave waves of the brick facade, rigorous testing has been carried out to ensure quality would never be compromised and full compliance to all required standards of fire safety.”
Behind this brick facade, the semi-circular building – with its ‘bookend’ structures – proved too heavy for the designers’ original intention of providing raft foundations. Instead, the building sits upon robust footings consisting of over two hundred piles descending to a depth of 27 metres. This means the foundations “are as deep as the building is high,” Chris explains.
The next challenge faced by the team were the balconies proposed for each home, which also “proved problematic in terms of their load bearing weight.”
“Many avenues were explored,” continues the contractor, “with a lightweight aluminium solution ultimately identified and implemented.”
In order to overcome these challenges, all aspects of the build have been tested and subjected to thorough quality control to make sure it will last the lifetime of the building, and outperform all other buildings in the local area.
The reinforced concrete, for example, is covered with a minimum of 30 mm of concrete to protect from any corrosion, “which is more than you would normally expect to see in a building such as this,” says Chris.
“All the materials chosen on the external facade, such as windows, balconies etc, are being made from non-ferrous materials so that they will not rust – and any other materials that have the potential to corrode, will have an enhanced level of protection.”
Ella adds: “The lengths our client has gone to making this such a unique development is unlike most developers, with such an attention to detail and commitment to overall quality.”
In order to reduce emissions and raise the sustainability of the project, a communal boiler will serve all the units internally. Additionally, each dwelling will offer underfloor heating – both serving to maximise internal space.
The main system was specified due to its high efficiency, and because it can be maintained by the company rather than being the individual resident’s responsibility.
It also provides the added benefit of resident’s only needing to pay for what they use, and, given new ways of working since the global pandemic, the building will have an efficient system to ‘supply on demand’ for each individual unit.
In terms of solar gain, all south-facing windows have solar control coatings to prevent overheating. Some areas are triple glazed as well, while other facades are double glazed, depending on their elevation and orientation.
“Because of the exposed location of this build, the highest specification of glazing is in place,” says Ella. “Seasonal weather conditions and the exposed seafront location have been carefully considered and designed to ensure comfort all year round.”
With completion approaching early next year, looking back on the project so far Ella believes that it is in terms of its quality that Shoreline is already finding true success.
“With a brief to deliver contemporary new homes that ooze opulence and class and that stand the test of time, every aspect of the project has been designed with a 100-year lifespan to ensure longevity and that the quality of the finished product is never compromised by its exposure to the coastal elements,” she says.
“And this bespoke finish is most certainly not limited to what the public eye can see,” adds Chris, “with communal areas clad with acoustic walls and terrazzo floors to ensure quality radiates throughout.”
Ella concludes: “First impressions count,” and with the likelihood of future phases of the masterplan reliant on the appetite and appeal created by this multi-million-pound investment’s first phase, the ‘wow’ factor it conveys is fundamentally important.”