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Housing estate plans unveiled for St Martin's Hospital site in Canterbury


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Plans to demolish an old hospital wing to make way for 200 homes in Canterbury have been unveiled for the first time.

Fifteen acres of the St Martin's Hospital site are earmarked to be developed as part of a "much-needed" scheme by Homes England, the government's housing provider.

A computer-generated image of the proposed 200-home scheme off Littlebourne Road
A computer-generated image of the proposed 200-home scheme off Littlebourne Road

The site's Cranmer Ward, accessed off the busy Littlebourne Road, has stood derelict since being vacated by the NHS and sold for £6.3 million in 2019.

Ambitions to turn the old Victorian wing – where older patients with mental health conditions such as dementia were cared for – into a housing complex have long been harboured.

Canterbury City Council allocated the land for future residential use in its adopted Local Plan in 2017.

Now, three years after purchasing the plot, Homes England has outlined its vision ahead of submitting an outline planning application this summer.

It hopes to start demolition work in 2024, before going on to deliver the 200 homes over a four-year period.

Canterbury's St Martins is set for housing
Canterbury's St Martins is set for housing

While parts of the old hospital will be flattened, key buildings – along with the existing main entrance into the site – are due to be retained.

The properties, of which 30% will be 'affordable housing', are set to be a mix of sizes, ranging from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses.

A public consultation for residents to have their say on the proposals before Wednesday, June 1 has now been launched.

"Canterbury City Council has only managed to deliver 65% of the new homes it needs to deliver in recent years resulting in significant need for new homes, including affordable homes to be built," consultation papers state.

"Redevelopment of the St Martin’s West site will play a key role in assisting the council to meet its housing needs on a sustainable, previously developed site, offering opportunities for local people to have access to affordable and market housing."

The 15-acre site is planned to become a housing estate
The 15-acre site is planned to become a housing estate

Homes England says new play facilities will be provided and the area will be enhanced into a "parkland landscape" with "nature at the heart of the development".

If given the go-ahead, the new estate would sit directly opposite a 500-home development at the old Howe Barracks – resulting in hundreds more car journeys up and down one of the city's busiest roads.

But those behind the St Martin's plans are confident the new development will not give rise to traffic problems, suggesting the levels will be similar to when the site was a hospital.

"Work to date has identified there are no anticipated off-site improvements required to the highway network," the papers continue.

"We anticipate there will be some improvements to the site access junction, although its location will not change. This access was used as the hospital access for a number of years."

The old St Martin's Hospital is set to be turned into housing. Picture: Homes England
The old St Martin's Hospital is set to be turned into housing. Picture: Homes England

Homes England says it is "very aware" of the current wastewater problem which has put the brakes on swathes of developments around east Kent, and states it will work with the council to ensure the scheme does not impact the environment.

While the government's housing provider formulates the plans and bids to secure permission, a separate housing developer will build the homes.

The proposals relate to the other half of St Martin’s, with the eastern side remaining as an active hospital, which is operated by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

To view the consultation documents, click here.

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