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Former Buckland Hospital site in Dover to be transformed into new homes

The former Buckland Hospital site will be transformed in a few years into 150 new homes.

It will wipe clean and redraw the face of a scene that existed since the 19th century.

Jimmy Digges, boss of the developers Yellowstone Homes, said: “The planning permission is a major step forward and we look forward to getting on with the development.

The site will be developed into housing
The site will be developed into housing

“It will completely transform the area.

“We hope the new homes will be completed in three years.

“This area of Dover will benefit from our development as it will bring economic benefits along with local employment and quality housing.”

He said the change would also wipe out an element of anti-social behaviour as the site was attacked by arsonists at the time the old hospital was demolished.

There were even torchings of houses behind the site at Randolph Road, which is now being turned into a dementia village in a separate scheme.

The new development, at the Coombe Valley Road hospital site, has changed from a plan to build 188 homes, which was later considered to be too much.

How the new flats will look. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects
How the new flats will look. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects

That proposal, discussed during 2017 and 2018, was slammed for having a “Soviet style” design by the Dover Society and “an Eastern European reject” by one local resident at a public meeting.

But Mr Digges told KentOnline: “We completely redesigned the whole site.

“We now have individual architect designed buildings including a reduction in heights.

“This was done taking advice and guidance from the planners.”

The application was also opposed by Dover Town Council and some resident neighbours for not having affordable housing.

Mr Digges said the area already had a lot of affordable housing but it was not viable for this project.

Jimmy Digges. Picture Jimmy Digges
Jimmy Digges. Picture Jimmy Digges

He added: “We will be contributing around £500,000 towards local services subject to a Section 106 (planning) agreement.”

In July 2017, as demolition of the old site was progressing, arsonists burned down one of the buildings.

Twenty-four hour security had to be used when thieves were also taking scrap metal from the site.

Permission for this development comes just after news that the district council granted planning permission for 64 homes, the first of 500 on Dover’s Connaught Barracks site.

The oldBuckland Hospital was originally the Dover Union Workhouse Infirmary, opening on September 29, 1836.

The street it was on was then called Union Road.

It offered up to 500 people in poverty accommodation and work.

It became a new infirmary in 1884 and a nurses’ home was added in 1902.

Former Buckland Hospital site, Buckland Avenue, Dover. Picture: Tony Flashman
Former Buckland Hospital site, Buckland Avenue, Dover. Picture: Tony Flashman

The institution was known as the County Hospital from 1943 to 1948 and was named Buckland Hospital when it became part of the newly-formed National Health Service in 1948.

Generations of Dovorians have been born there over the decades.

Mr Digges is director of the planning applicants Yellowstone Homes.

Its parent company is Blackstone Estates in Sidcup, London, bought the site at an auction in December 2016 for £1.45 million.

The existing replacement Buckland Hospital, 60 to 70 metres north-east along Coombe Valley Road, was opened on June 12, 2015.

This autumn East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust will open a £3.5 million dementia village of six houses at Randolph Road.

The Dover District Council planning committee voted for the 150 homes at its last meeting, on June 20.

This is outline permissionand planning officers recommended approval.

It is for a total 142 flats and eight houses.

View of the new homes. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects
View of the new homes. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects

The flats would in nine blocks, five at six storeys, three at five storeys and the ninth at four.

In the previous proposal of 188 homes one block would have been nine storeys but that was also dropped.

A planning officer’s report said: “The development would certainly be transformative to this part of the valley.

“The proposed development would bring economic benefits to the Coombe Valley are through construction contracts in the sort term and in the longer term through an increase in residents.

“A total 150 new dwellings represents new people, which potentially represents more resources supporting local shops, facilities and services.”

During public consultation there were 10 messages of support from neighbours and 18 against.

Artist' impression of the new flats from last month. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects
Artist' impression of the new flats from last month. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects

Those in favour said the site has been in bad condition and the area needs more housing.

Objectors said that the density of the development was too high.

They added that there was poor road access to the area and that too much traffic would be generated.

Dover Town Council was also against the scheme saying it would increase parking restricted in an area already short of permitted parking.

But neither Kent County Council’s highways department nor Highways England objected.

Kent County Council's Highways team expected traffic levels to rise but not too severely as shops were nearby and town centre could be reached on foot or directly by bus.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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