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Former pump station, Pluto II, at Dungeness could become art exhibition and accommodation


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A former, secret pump station used during the Second World War could be converted into an artist's studio and gallery.

The concrete and derelict building, on land off Dungeness Road, in Dungeness, was one of an ensemble of historic elements that were either repurposed or constructed as covert structures to house pumps for Operation PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) during the war.

The old pump station at Dungeness. Photo: MS - DA/JOHNSON NAYLOR
The old pump station at Dungeness. Photo: MS - DA/JOHNSON NAYLOR

PLUTO was the name for the overarching ambitious military operation set up to pump fuel from England and the Isle of Wight, across the sea bed, via a multitude of small bore high pressure hoses, to allied forces in France.

Pumps were concealed in the front and back rooms of seaside villas and bungalows along the south coast.

But due to a lack to suitable buildings on Dungeness, new buildings - resembling the single-storey flat-roofed dwellings of the area and therefore appearing as ordinary as a camouflage for their special use - had to be erected.

There are three such pump stations - PLUTO I, II and III - erected within metres of each other on the land off Dungeness Road, which is on the shingle and located within Dungeness Conservation Area and Dungeness National Nature Reserve.

A planning application has now been submitted to change PLUTO II into an art archive, education workshop and public exhibition space with a small residential studio for visiting ‘resident’ photographers and artists for the Peter Marlow Foundation.

Proposed internal ground floor view of the new art gallery planned for the old pump station. Photo: MS - DA / JOHNSON NAYLOR
Proposed internal ground floor view of the new art gallery planned for the old pump station. Photo: MS - DA / JOHNSON NAYLOR

The foundation - named after photographer Peter Marlow - encourages, examines and celebrates the photography of humanity, its impact and legacy.

Internally, the refurbishment would comprise of a flexible main space, which could be used as public gallery and workshop, plus accommodation.

Additionally, a newly proposed basement area will house an archival storage facility, workshop and offices.

A new entrance lobby is also proposed, as well as a lift and boardwalk.

A statement from the design and access statement reads: "The proposed scheme addresses the challenges imposed by the brief and resulting programme, while respecting and enhancing the character of the existing building, its legacy, the context of Dungeness and the distinct qualities and beauty of its landscape."

Proposed external approach of the renovated pump station. Photo: MS-DA / Johnson Naylor
Proposed external approach of the renovated pump station. Photo: MS-DA / Johnson Naylor

CGIs (computer generated images) have been released along with the design and access statement.

The planning application has been submitted to Folkestone and Hythe District Council. A decision is expected in July.

To see more public notices, visit www.kentonline.co.uk/advertise/public-notices/

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