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1970s Soviet design criticism for planned flats at former Buckland Hospital site, Dover

By Sam Lennon

A scheme for homes to replace the former Buckland Hospital have been branded "1970s Soviet" style.
The comments by The Dover Society follow a unanimous rejection of the application by Dover Town Council’s planning committee.

A letter from the civic group to Dover District Council’s planning committee said: “ This style is more akin to a 1970s Soviet design and gives no consideration to the green infrastructure that is part of the visual scene of Dover.

Initial images of the planned Buckland Hospital site flats. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects
Initial images of the planned Buckland Hospital site flats. Picture: Beanland Associates Architects

“The Dover Society considers the development ill conceived in delivering a high -rise building not suitable to the area.

“Nationally there s a move away from such developments and the application is what was the norm 40 years ago.”

The group, says the scheme is too dense for the area and adds that the development would worsen the already high risk of flooding in the area.

The application, by Yellowstone Homes of Sidcup, south London, is for 182 flats and six houses on the former hospital site at Coombe Valley Road.

The flats would be on two blocks rising from four to six to nine storeys.

Cllr Ian Palmer
Cllr Ian Palmer

Cllr Ian Palmer, member of both the town planning committee and St Radigund’s ward, said the blocks were too high and explained: : “This is not right for St Radigund’s.

“The size and scale of the proposal will have a very negative impact on the surrounding area.”

“The site directly backs onto a Local Nature Reserve.

“I am concerned such high density development will have a negative impact on the character of the area.

“ Such a heavily built up estate could provide the setting for anti-social behaviour to occur.
Blocks of flats nine storeys high are out of keeping with the rest of the area, where even the new dwellings at the highest point are only two storeys high.”

Cllr Miriam Wood. Picture: Peter Wallace
Cllr Miriam Wood. Picture: Peter Wallace

Cllr Miriam Wood, also from the planning committee, said: “We think Dover needs quality but affordable housing.

"These flats will look ugly and out of place because of the height and still be too expensive for many Dovorians to buy.

“The developers are not offering the needed affordable housing or any compensation to local people, such as funding for libraries or building a new community space.

“We are concerned about it and hope it is rejected by Dover District Council."

District planning councillors will decide on the application and the town council is a consultee.

The scheme has had similar criticisms in a previous public meeting.

Last October neighbour William House told a St Radigund’s Residents’ Association meeting said that the flats looked line ones “pulled down in Eastern Europe 20 years ago.”

The old Buckland Hospital in 2016, before demolition
The old Buckland Hospital in 2016, before demolition

Yellowstone Homes director Jimmy Digges answered criticisms of the design saying this was still only an outline applications.

He also wrote, in a letter to the district council: “The discharge into the sewers is likely to be less than when the former hospital was operational.

“Surface/rainwater water from the proposed scheme will discharge into the ground by means of soakaways , this was not the case before .

“How is this going to affect wildlife in the wooded area behind the site?

“This is a previously developed brown field site. We have come up with what we consider to be a very good scheme that will enhance the whole area .”

The old Buckland Hospital, now demolished, had been left empty after it was replaced by the new one along the road in 2015.

Mr Digges had previously said the old “eyesore” building, that had been repeatedly vandalised, had been removed along with on-site asbestos.

He said that there was no social housing in the plans because three housing associations had considered the site unsuitable.

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