Published: 06:00, 28 November 2019
| Updated: 07:16, 28 November 2019
Highly-anticipated plans for the redevelopment of the former Nasons site in the city centre can today be exclusively revealed.
They show a stunning glass-fronted transformation of the old department store in Canterbury which has stood derelict for more than a year.
Re-named Biggleston Yard in a nod to its history, the scheme drawn up by architects includes a pedestrian retail arcade and market hall with a focus on food and drink, a new public open space as well as 38 flats and 28 "serviced" apartments.
The site has been acquired by London-based property investor and development company Setha Group, which is working closely with award-winning firms Child Graddon Lewis and Clague Architects to bring forward the proposals.
They say the proposed development, which could cost up to £20 million, "reconnects the Nasons site back to its industrial past but also creates an exciting new future with plans for high-quality retailing".
The scheme is the latest to provide a new vision for the retail and residential transformation of the city centre and follows on from the plans already revealed for the Debenhams site when the store closes in January.
Managing partner of Canterbury-based Clague Architects, Karl Elliot says Biggleston Yard offers a once-in-a-decade development opportunity.
“It will bring back to life a currently well-hidden part of Canterbury’s heritage, in this case its industrial past,” he said.
“As well as celebrating Canterbury’s heritage and the Foresters Hall, the forge and foundry, we are making new public spaces and forging the missing link between Whitefriars and Marlowe Arcade with White Horse Lane and the High Street.”
He added: “We are very confident that the team’s combined architectural skills of heritage conservation, retail, leisure and residential design will create a place that Canterbury, and everyone involved in the project, can be rightly proud of."
Manuel Alonsi, chief executive officer at the Setha Group, said: “We are very excited about the project as it provides the opportunity to bring forward another high-quality development in the heart of one of England’s best-known medieval cities.
“Like every city, Canterbury is having to respond to the ever changing retail and leisure demands of residents and visitors alike, as well as the challenge presented by online retailers.
“We believe Biggleston Yard would play an important part in enhancing the ongoing appeal of the city centre as a destination already synonymous with quality.”
Until 1963, the site was home to HM Biggleston & Sons, a six-generation family business that produced iron castings, railway girders, lamp posts and other street furniture. Many of the latter can still be found around the city centre.
During the site’s ownership by the Biggleston family, and predecessors Drury & Co, there was a foundry and forge on the western part of the site built in the mid-19th century.
These two buildings have been incorporated into the Biggleston Yard proposals, as has the late 19th century Foresters Hall and associated buildings which butt up to the churchyard of the former St Margaret’s Church - now the Canterbury Tales attraction - at the rear.
Accessed from the High Street, the eastern part of Biggleston Yard would offer a covered retail arcade, a “market hall” and restaurants linking through
to the new public open space to the south.
The new buildings, ranging from three to five storeys high, would incorporate the listed buildings at 46 High Street and Foresters Hall.
If granted permission, the western part of the site would be repurposed to include flexible commercial floorspace on the ground floor and flats on the upper floors.
A group of new buildings would be centred around a public courtyard and crossed by a pedestrian alley connecting White Horse Lane and the new public open space to the east.
The proposals will be the subject of a two-day public exhibition between 2pm and 8pm on Thursday, December 5, and noon until 8pm on Friday, December 6, at the former Nasons department store in the High Street.
More by this authorGerry Warren