Published: 09:10, 24 December 2019
| Updated: 12:07, 24 December 2019
An historic but neglected hospital in Folkestone will be transformed into 18 new luxury apartments.
The ambitious project was given the green light after members of Folkestone and Hythe District Council's planning committee unanimously approved the plans.
The hybrid application will see the dilapidated and empty main hospital building, which is more than 100 years old, restored and turned into 18 new homes.
This will include 15 two-bed flats and three one-bed flats.
Off street parking for 18 cars is also planned to the front of the building, in Radnor Park Avenue, while a communal landscaped area, together with a combined bin and bike store, will be built to the rear.
In addition, the application from developer Alliance Building includes outline plans for the redevelopment of the remaining parts of the site, following the complete demolition of the outbuildings, to provide up to 26 houses and associated car parking.
Although a provisional layout for this part of the proposal has been provided, the finer details are yet to be finalised and were not for consideration under this application.
However that didn't stop a member of the public speaking at the meeting, held last week, to raise fears about the high density of homes, the heights of the planned buildings and their proximity to existing homes.
Pollution was also listed as a concern.
Councillors too raised questions over the application, in particular the low number of affordable homes proposed - which is only two.
Despite policy stating that all new housing developments of 15 or more units should provide 30% affordable housing, or alternatively provide a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value off-site, that is not happening in this case.
That is because the developer submitted a financial viability assessment which took into account the costs associated with the development and concluded that provision of any more than two affordable units on-site would mean that the development would not be viable to commence.
This was accepted by the council's planning team, who recommend the application for approval.
But Cllr Jim Martin (Green) suggested the cost of providing a suitable number of affordable homes should come out of the developer's profits.
But planning officers advised that if the plans were refused it risked the site not being developed at all.
In the end all members voted in support of the application.
It is not know when work will start to convert the building, but demolition of the outbuildings at the Radnor Park Avenue site began earlier this year.
In 2015 an unsuccessful campaign was launched by members of the Women's Institute who led calls for improved health care or social care at the site.
It has been subject to vandalism over the years and now appears in a sad state covered in graffiti with broken windows and boarded up doors.