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Filmmaker joins fight to save Shorncliffe Garrison stables from development

An Oscar winning filmmaker has joined campaigners fighting to save First World War stables from developers.

Folkestone's Shorncliffe Garrison stables housed thousands of war horses before they were shipped to the Western Front.

Developer Taylor Wimpey hopes to demolish the 1904 building in a fresh wave of new housing on 77 hectares of ex-Ministry of Defence land.

Lord of the Rings film director Peter Jackson has joined the fight to save Shorncliffe Heights from development
Lord of the Rings film director Peter Jackson has joined the fight to save Shorncliffe Heights from development

Sir Peter Jackson, the man behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy has now pleaded with the firm to help preserve military buildings within the Shorncliffe Heights development.

He wrote in a letter to heritage charity the Shorncliffe Trust, which wants to build a heritage centre on the site: “I am writing to give my support to a very worthwhile project, namely the development of a heritage and education centre which can tell the significant story of Shorncliffe Garrison’s part in world military history.

“I understand the garrison has outline planning permission for 1,200 homes, but to achieve this, all but a handful of original buildings will be demolished and the military integrity lost in its entirety.”

His letter goes on: “As a person with a passion for military history, particularly that of the First World War, I would urge the developer not only to encourage re-use of original buildings in their setting where possible, but to also support the aspirations of the Shorncliffe Trust.”

The Hobbit director’s letter was unveiled as he prepares to release new war documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.

Meanwhile, Taylor Wimpey continues to build on St Martin’s Plain and The Stadium. Full planning permission for the initial phases were granted in 2015 - and since then the areas house a significant number of homes.

Part of the Shorncliffe Heights development
Part of the Shorncliffe Heights development

Now, the developer is preparing to launch five reserved matters applications to cover the final stages of development, bringing forward 700 more homes.

The development’s masterplan includes a nature conservation area, primary school in addition to new and improved recreation facilities.

A community hub with a doctor’s surgery, cafe and shop, will also be included. The Shorncliffe Trust is ramping up fundraising efforts.

It hopes to raise £1.5 million in a bid to set up the heritage and education centre on the site.

A charity screening of Stephen Spielberg’s War Horse will be shown at Folkestone’s Silver Screen Cinema in Guildhall Street on September 30.

Curtains open at 5pm and tickets are £5 from shorncliffe-trust.org.uk

Meanwhile, the developer said it will press ahead levelling the stables. A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said: “We understand the importance of preserving the heritage of Shorncliffe Garrison and we will be retaining a proportion of the historic buildings and structures as key elements of the new development.

“The decision to demolish the stables was not taken lightly and we consulted extensively with Historic England and other expert consultants to determine which of the buildings should be retained.

"We recognise the historical significance of the site and we are supportive of the Shorncliffe Trust’s hopes to create a heritage centre in one of the retained buildings.”

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