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Reinventing Dover's Market Square


New Adventures - Market Square 4

Dover’s new-look Market Square has re-opened following a £3.6m programme of public realm improvements to create a modern and welcoming focal point for residents and visitors alike.

The centrepiece of the new-look Market Square is a unique walk-through water feature. Four striking steel rings incorporate a misting feature creating a fun space for children to play and for everyone to cool-off this summer! 

Improved seating, a raised terrace and a feature lighting display provide space to host events and for people to meet throughout the day and into the evening whilst taking in skyline views of Dover Castle.

Wide paved areas have been designed so that cafes and pubs can offer alfresco dining, whilst new trees to be planted this autumn will provide shade and bring colour and textures to the Market Square throughout the year.

A public celebration and grand opening of the new Market Square is planned for Saturday, 20 August with free entertainment for all the family organised by Destination Dover and the Dover Town Team.

The original idea for the improvements to the Market Square came from the Dover Town Team which represents town centre traders. Supported by Dover District Council and Dover Town Council, the Team submitted a £2.44m bid to the government’s Coastal Communities Fund (CCF).  The Fund supports economic development projects in coastal areas across the UK.

The works were supported by Kent County Council as the highways authority and undertaken by Kent-based, FM Conway Limited.

Market Square Big Summer Party

Project updates 

About the Market Square project

Dover District Council managed the £3.6m project on behalf of the Dover Town Team to improve the Market Square.  The project is funded by a grant of £2.44m from the Coastal Communities Fund and a £1.2m contribution from Dover District Council. Dover Town Council has also contributed to the project.

coastal communities fund logo

The aim of the project is to attract more people to visit and shop in Dover by making the Market Square more welcoming for local residents and creating a focal point for visitors to the town centre.  

The overriding concept was the creation of a paved space that provides the flexibility for events to be held, adding to the attractions that Dover town centre has to offer.  The design was then developed with regard to the natural movement patterns and congregation points in the square to create routes, desire lines and establish the organisation of spaces and activities.

Key design features

  • A paved space for performance where pedestrians can gather and interact, socialise and take in the views out of the Square.  To make the square feel safe part of the square has been raised onto a platform to enable the public to sit comfortably above the traffic to Cannon Street and King Street and take on the views around the square.

  • A water feature located in the centre of the square provides an ornamental feature that enlivens the space, but also creates a focus for children to play and families to congregate.  The water feature will act as a wayfinder that will be unique and recognisable to Dover.

  • Opportunities to sit have been increased with the introduction of more seats and terraced areas, where people can congregate.  Around the Square pedestrian footways are widened next to the buildings to enable open air dining associated with the many businesses cafes and pubs.

  • On the eastern side of the square a line of planting which has been added to introduce greening to Market Square.  This provides some shelter and importantly a variety of colour and textures throughout the year.

  • On King Street the carriageway width has reduced, and parking bays have been removed meaning areas for pedestrians has significantly increased.  Loading bays have been incorporated along King Street in a manner that integrates them into the footway, ensuring pedestrians use them outside loading times.  The result is that King Street changes from a road dominated thoroughfare to a pedestrian friendly public realm.

  • The feature lighting is designed to provide a memorable landmark to the square that gives it different feel at night time.

The early design proposals for the Market Square were informed by two rounds of public consultation.  The plans were refined further following engagement with local stakeholders in 2020.  Work is expected to get underway in autumn 2021.

Pedestrian friendly

A number of highway changes have been designed to make the Market Square more pedestrian friendly.  This will affect parking and waiting restrictions on roads adjoining the Market Square including, Church Street, Castle Street and King Street.  The key changes include: 

Church Street

  • New coach drop-offs accommodating both left- and right-hand drive vehicles (20 minutes stay with no return for one hour) 
  • The existing parking and disabled bays will be removed between Stembrook and The Gateway offices (eastern side), and between Stembrook and St Mary’s Passage (western side) and replaced with double yellow lines
  • New disabled parking bays will be provided in the Stembrook car park 

Castle Street 

  • A new loading bay and a bus stop clearway will be created on the south-eastern side between Dolphin Passage and Church Street
  • The existing pay-and-display parking bays will be removed between Dolphin Passage and Church Street.  Pay-and-Display spaces will still be available between Dolphin Passage and Maison Dieu Road

King Street

  • A new loading bay (40 minutes maximum stay with no return for two hours) and double yellow lines will replace the existing taxi rank and parking bays between Castle Street and Fishmongers Lane (eastern wide)
  • A new loading bay (40 minutes maximum stay with no return for two hours) and double yellow lines will replace the existing coach lay-by between Cannon Street and Queen Street (western side)
  • Additional spaces for taxis will be available at St James and at a further location still to be confirmed

You can see the Traffic Order and comment on the proposals by Monday, 8 March 2021 on the Kent County Council website.

Market Square plan Feb21