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Victorian medicine factory in Dartford purchased by house builder Weston Homes to be turned into 400 hundred homes

The site of a large Victorian medicine factory is set to transform into an £80 million housing development providing 400 new homes.

The 7.6 acre land near Dartford train station, once the home of a supplier of remedies for explorers and Royal Family members, has been purchased by house builder Weston Homes for the construction of a waterside “garden village”.

The brownfield space, currently called Mill Ponds, will be converted into one to two bedroom apartments and two to three bedroom houses surrounding a local high street, a large village pond, and green spaces.

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A total of 636 homes are earmarked for the former GlaxoSmithKline site
A total of 636 homes are earmarked for the former GlaxoSmithKline site

The project will begin in summer this year and is expected to be completed in autumn 2016.

The firm claims that, once redeveloped, the Mill Ponds and neighbouring Northern Gateway sites will “provide the south east of England with a large new urban centre, built entirely on brownfield land.”

“Projects in the £300 to £700 per sqft price range is exactly where Weston Homes wishes to focus at present and we believe that this sector of the marketplace will continue to flourish and benefit from sustained demand” - Bob Weston

Bob Weston, chairman and managing director of Weston Homes, said: “Our new £80 million garden village will transform surplus industrial land and bring it back to use as high quality residential housing and commercial premises.

“The Mill Pond and river setting will provide attractive water features for the adjoining homes and the leafy garden suburb inspired design will create a highly attractive place to live. It will be ideal for families and executives wanting a home within the M25 providing easy commuting into central London.”

Video: Chairman Bob Weston talks about the development

Initially the home of the Pheonix Paper Mill built in 1852, the site was replaced with the Wellcome pharmaceuticals factory in 1889 which made cod liver oil, malt and saccharin. The factory even prepared medicine chests for famous explorers including Captain Roald Amundsen – the first man to reach the South Pole.

In its Edwardian heyday, the manufacturer extended beyond its original boundaries and eventually covered 33 acres, employed over 1,300 people and relied on raw materials transported up the River Darent by barge.

After the Second World War, newer plants were opened on other sites and the Dartford factory was shut down in 2008 by its then owners GlaxoSmithKline.

The facility has been up for regeneration since 2010 and a masterplan has now been devised for the entire facility by firm Delancey.

Workers on the factory floor at GlaxoSmithKline, then known as Burroughs Wellcome
Workers on the factory floor at GlaxoSmithKline, then known as Burroughs Wellcome

The acquisition of the Mill Ponds site is part of Weston Homes’ ongoing £1 billion expansion programme which is set to double the size of the company over the next four to five years.

Mr Weston added: “Stamp duty on £2 million plus homes and mansion tax concerns has slowed the central London market and focused investor and developer attention on outer London and commuter belt locations where competitive entry prices and stamp duty reductions have helped to further increase demand for new homes.

“Projects in the £300 to £700 per sq ft price range is exactly where Weston Homes wishes to focus at present and we believe that this sector of the marketplace will continue to flourish and benefit from sustained demand.”

Prices have not been set but are anticipated to start from £150,000 for a 500 sq ft one-bedroom apartment.

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