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Burlington House dubbed 'a futuristic showpiece high-class development' in 1960s

Burlington House is coming down this summer after blighting Townwall Street for 42 years.

While many people are keen to see it go, the eyesore has been a huge part of the town’s history and heritage.

It was one of Dover’s big plans to make the area more attractive in the 1960s, dubbed a ‘futuristic showpiece high-class development’ by the council.

Townwall Street during the 1950s
Townwall Street during the 1950s

Initial plans were for it to stand with 23 storeys, including a roof-top restaurant, garden and office space.

Guidelines included a conference hall for 650 people, showrooms, shops, and a multi- storey car park for 500 cars.

Construction work was set to begin in 1969 but it was held up by Kent County Council, which did not like the proposed design.

Burlington House in 2003
Burlington House in 2003

By 1973 the building was erected, comprising 12 floors, some of which were never used.

It stood empty for the first two years while the council debated how it should be filled.

Customs and excise, along with freight forwarders, a bank’s administrative office and a government training centre moved in, but most of the building remained empty.

Burlington House as seen by residents today
Burlington House as seen by residents today

As the years went on, concern was expressed about a lack of maintenance work from the district council.

Since the millennium, the building has been declared unfit for use, and concrete plans have been in place to tear it down for more than a decade.

The St James’ redevelopment scheme was launched in 1995.

Twenty years on, a compulsory purchase order has been approved.

This means the district council can acquire the last 5% of land (Burlington House and County Hotel).

This is what the scheme could look like on completion
This is what the scheme could look like on completion

The demolition of these buildings will make way for the St James’ development, which will be a mixed retail and leisure venue.

So far it will contain a six-screen Cineworld cinema, an M&S Simply Food store, a 108-bed Travelodge hotel and restaurants Frankie and Benny’s and Bella Italia.

Fashion retailer Next is rumoured to be joining, but no announcements have been made.

The Dover Society has said that Burlington House coming down will mark the start of regeneration for Dover.

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