Foster & Partners has drawn up plans for a massive overhaul of the Folkestone seafront for local businessman and philanthropist Roger de Haan.
De Haan hopes the proposals will be adopted by Shepway council as part of its local plan, and will put a stop to a seafront housing scheme by Aukett Fitzroy Robinson for Trent Developments.
De Haan, the retired boss of Saga, the biggest employer in the area, bought Folkestone Harbour for £11 million in 2004. He wants to redesign the whole of the harbour and the seashore to include a university, a revamped marina and a fast ferry service.
He has appointed Foster to the scheme, which takes in land owned by two other groups as well as his own holdings. The proposals focus on regenerating the rundown town, retaining prosperous, educated residents and attracting cultural tourists.
But Trent Developments, one of the other landholders, has already won conditional planning permission for the Aukett Fitzroy Robinson scheme on the seafront, which includes 600 homes with a cinema, bowling, a hotel, casino, bars and restaurants.
De Haan has called on local residents to pressure the council into deferring full approval of the plans or withdrawing consent altogether so his proposals can go ahead in their entirety.
"[The Trent development] has been described as a planning application by a developer," said a spokesman for de Haan, who has promised to plough any profits back into the public realm. "Roger de Haan's motives in putting forward a plan for a much wider area are quite philanthropic - he wants to provide a future direction for Folkestone."
The spokesman added that the proposals could be adopted by the council as part of its local plan within 9 to 12 months, and work could start within two years. Shepway council has promised to consult on the proposals but has not provided a timetable.
Paul Newman, a director of Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, said it was planning to press ahead as soon as it had council agreement.