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Edinburgh House: We won't dwarf church with heritage quarter plans

heritage quarter
heritage quarter

Gravesend's historic St George's Church will not be dwarfed by major redevelopment in the area, it was revealed this week.

The building will be enhanced by sympathetic and respectful plans, says the firm behind the town’s biggest-ever redevelopment.

The proposals for the Heritage Quarter went back to the drawing board after developers Edinburgh House, who own the St George’s Shopping Centre, withdrew an appeal for a highly controversial design.

They have drafted in specialist architect Andy Williams who has experience with some of Britain’s key developments including public space at Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and Nottingham’s Castle College.

His instructions are to make the design more sympathetic to the area, particularly historic St George’s Church and include:

Dropping much of the development’s underground parking spaces

Considering building a small theatre suitable for schools and small amateur groups

Funding affordable housing away from the development

Introducing more two-bed flats

Redesigning the road system to cut traffic

Edinburgh House managing director Tony Quayle said: "We have taken on board all the points discussed at the forums and listened to the concerns raised.

"I have a huge amount of confidence in Andy Williams, who has significant experience and knowledge in working on projects of this kind.

"He has already made a big impact on the proposals."

His designs are expected to go to the council in the first half of next year.

One of the historic features at the very heart of the development area is the church where the Native American princess, Pocahontas was buried.

Edinburgh House expect St George’s will eventually become the symbol of Gravesend.

Views of its white spire are to be opened up or improved so that it would eventually become an important image of the town.

The revisions now being drawn up following extensive discussions with a forum of interested people including the borough’s civic society, Urban Gravesham and the church authorities.
Not everyone is happy about the way things are going.

Urban Gravesham’s acting chairman, Martin McKay, said they had worries.

He said: "We are concerned that Edinburgh House is aiming to submit another planning application early in the new year without genuine public consultation and with no significant alterations to either the eastern or western quarters."

When building begins, it is expected about 125 flats will be sold each year. Up to 400 are being planned.

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