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Former Club Karma in Dover gets planning permission for flats but council told of Roman finds


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Permission has been given to replace a former nightclub with flats.

But it is on condition that the area is given a thorough search by archaeologists who say it is a historic goldmine.

The former nightclub, photographed this week
The former nightclub, photographed this week

Dover District Council's planning committee last night (Thursday) voted seven to three to replace the derelict Club Karma, in Adrian Street, Dover, and its car park with two blocks.

Kent County Council's archaeology department says the area may have remnants of a Roman building and a garderobe, a wardrobe or small storeroom in a medieval building.

Its report to planning councillors said: "The site has the potential to contain significant remains, including those associated with a medieval garderobe and a Roman building with plaster and opus-signinum floors and plaster-faced walls."

The Romans used the area's Dour Estuary as a port and the most obvious sign today of their time here is the Roman Painted House, now a tourist attraction a few 100 metres away in New Street.

This is the remains of a hotel or mansion from around AD 200, discovered in the 1970s.

"Dover developed into one of the most important Roman ports."

The KCC report says: "The sheltered mouth of the Dour Estuary was exploited by the Romans and Dover developed into one of the most important ports in the province. The Classis Britannica (the Roman naval fleet based in the Channel) established a major base at Dover.

"The successive forts ,which made up this base were located about 50 metres to the north of the proposed development site."

Investigations in the area in the 1950s showed the presence of Roman building remains. Other finds have included a Romano-British cemetery further along Adrian Street.

Excavations around Dover Discovery Centre in York Street, again a few 100 metres away, revealed evidence of sunken buildings and halls of Anglo-Saxon date.

It is thought likely that early medieval occupation was initially focussed around there.

The former Club Karma with its car park, both of which are to be built on. Picture: Sam Lennon
The former Club Karma with its car park, both of which are to be built on. Picture: Sam Lennon

Burials, thought to be Anglo-Saxon, were recorded around 100 metres north-west of the application site at Albany Place.

The report say the town was protected by a defensive wall circuit in medieval times and the nightclub site is towards its south-west corner, perhaps just inside a place then called Snar Gate

During clearance work after Second World War bombing a medieval garderobe was found terraced into the hill between Adrian Street and Snargate Street.

There has also been finds of flints and pottery from the end of the Stone age in Market Square.

The Bronze Age Boat, now on display in Dover Museum, was uncovered on September 28, 1992 during work to build the present A20 through the town.

The Bronze Age Boat, as now displayed in Dover Museum. Picture: Dover District Council
The Bronze Age Boat, as now displayed in Dover Museum. Picture: Dover District Council
The Bronze Age Boat being uncovered in Dover, 1992. Copyright KMG
The Bronze Age Boat being uncovered in Dover, 1992. Copyright KMG

It was near the subway at Townwall Street and is the world's oldest known seagoing boat, aged about 3,000 years.

The planning application, by Emervest of Surrey, is for 29 flats in three to six storey blocks.

It split local opinion, with, by yesterday, 57 letters to the council from neighbours against and 58 for it.

Objectors said the scheme would overpopulate the area and lead to overlooking on neighbouring homes.

Those in favour said the town needed more homes and this would revive a derelict site.

The nightclub building ablaze three years ago. Picture: Sam Lennon
The nightclub building ablaze three years ago. Picture: Sam Lennon

Both Dover Town Council and the civic group the Dover Society were against it saying the blocks would not fit in with the area.

But Dover Chamber of Commerce said it would boost the local economy as the scheme also includes a home working hub.

The group added it would bring more customers to town centre shops and council planning officers also recommended approval.

The building had been a nightclub for decades, previously called Nu Age and then Studio One.

It was empty by 2018 and struck in an arson attack that July.

Read more: All the latest news fro Dover.

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