Published: 06:00, 16 November 2019
Plans for Britain’s oldest surviving hospital building have been formally unveiled.
A specialist property development company proposes to redevelop St Bartholomew’s in Rochester, leaving much of it in tact.
Some 155 homes, ranging from one-bedroom and two bedrooms to three-bedroom houses, are earmarked at the location in New Road overlooking the River Medway and Victoria Gardens. Of these, most would be conversions in the main block and the remainder new build. The houses would be at the back in a separate Mews Quarter which will include a garden and south-facing terrace.
Manchester and London-based company MCR Property Group bought the site from NHS Property last year.
Fund manager Chris Taylor said: “St Bartholomew’s occupies a large, brownfield site in the heart of Rochester that is ripe for development.
“Our plans will be fully sensitive to the historic nature of the site, minimising disruption to the local community and ensuring key elements are retained as part of the high specification residential development.”
A formal application has been submitted to Medway Council after an open day in July and consultation period. It is hoped work might start in the spring.
A representation from the City of Rochester Society, which advise on planning and conservation matters, visited the exhibition at the St George Hotel, Chatham.
At the time of the open day, society chairman Alan Moss said: “We were quite pleased with what we saw, not the normal block of flats plans.
“It would have been nice if it could have been kept on for medical use, but we are happy that part of the building is being retained.”
The old Grade II-listed mortuary and waterworks would be restored and are set to be opened for community use.
The landmark tower along with the listed wall and railing of the Garden of Reflection would also be retained.
Fire broke out at the hospital earlier this year with thick black smoke pluming from the building.
St Bart’s, as it is known locally, was founded on the existing site in 1078 for the care of the poor and lepers.
Before it closed in September 2016, it was Britain’s oldest surviving hospital.
The current building was used by the Medway Clinical Commissioning Group to run its services, but it was declared not fit for purpose.
It provided specialist rehabilitation for stroke patients until services were transferred to Medway Maritime Hospital.
A consultation on the planning application closes on November 28. View the plans by searching MC/19/2709 on the Medway Council planning portal.
Another former Victorian hospital in Kent is set to make way for housing. An application to knock down a dilapidated part of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone was submitted earlier this year.
More by this authorNicola Jordan