A long-established soup kitchen that has been serving homeless and vulnerable residents for 26 years has been given planning permission for a temporary new site.
Dover Soup Kitchen was threatened with closure in November 2016 after the council booted it out of its last spot in Pencester Road after complaints by two residents.
But a successful petition saw Dover District Council back out of its decision to refuse planning permission, with the kitchen finally granted permission to move to a temporary site in Adrian Street car park at a council meeting last night (May 25).
Since they were last kicked out of their spot at Pencester Road in December 2016, organisers have been feeding people from the boot of their cars in Bench Street.
The move means volunteers will finally be able to dish out meals from a proper shelter in a portable cabin, with the kitchen set to move to Adrian Street in early June.
‘Step in the right direction’
Although the initial planning application was for 12 months, the move was voted down and amended to six months due to concerns about the suitability of the area.
Longstanding supporter of the soup kitchen, Councillor Peter Walker welcomed the news – but added the hunt is still on to find the establishment a permanent home.
He said: “We have to regard it as good news, and at last we are making a step in the right direction.
“Now we need to focus on what is needed for the long term and get moving very quickly.”
Councillor Peter Wallace added the Dover soup kitchen would be better suited to the Ladywell car park near Dover Town Hall, with better lighting and CCTV.
He added the proposed new site would be a better location than Adrian Street as it is less residential and further away from people’s homes.
He said: “It suggests improvement but to my mind we could do better for people in Adrian Street.
“For residents the Ladywell car park is a much better place for the soup kitchen, and it would be better far better for the users of the soup kitchen as well so they won’t get as much hassle.”
Soup kitchen organiser Dr Judith Shilling said: “I think we were disappointed we only get planning permission for six months, however Adrian Street is not our preferred car park.
“It is in a residential area which means we may have some complaints like we did at Pencester Road, but our sights are now on a permanent home.”
The soup kitchen nearly closed before Christmas when the district council retracted its planning permission for its location in Pencester Road.
It was discovered by Kent Live that the council received antisocial behaviour complaints from two residents.
After a campaign by Kent Live and a councillor – supported by a fierce petition signed by thousands – the kitchen was offered the new spot in Adrian Street.