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£1.85m Dockyard deal ends uncertainty

Regency Terrace, Sheerness
Regency Terrace, Sheerness

A £1.85 million deal ensuring the future of Sheerness Dockyard was due to be completed yesterday.

The Spitalfields Trust has already exchanged contracts with owner George Demetriou, director of Dockyard Buildings.

Spitalfields trustee William Palin, who is also a resident in Naval Terrace, called it the most significant heritage recovery deal in the South East for many years.

Mr Palin said the trust is fronting a group of investors who will be taking on properties within the residential quarter of the site and restoring them as houses.

The deal involves 10 buildings in all, some of which are Grade II* listed, and puts an end to years of uncertainty for Islanders and heritage groups locked in a battle with Mr Demetriou.

His plans included converting a historic building into 26 homes and knocking a hole through the dockyard wall to create access on to High Street, Blue Town.

But these were turned down by Swale council’s planning committee last year.

Mr Palin, who is also secretary of SAVE Britain’s Heritage which was involved in the campaign, said: “All the people now involved are passionate about historic buildings and they are all going to be putting their heart and souls into it.

“There’s a lot of investment needed and these are people whose interest is not in making a profit but working on an exciting project and giving something back to the dockyard and the wider community.

“The plan is to breathe life in to this historically important, but much neglected quarter, and make it once again the jewel of the Island.”

He also said that as well as restoring the houses in Regency Terrace, they will be looking to reinstate the historic landscape including the walled gardens.

Although there are certain planning permissions which need to be obtained, Mr Palin added that they are hoping to start work as soon as possible and would hope to have the site back on its feet between a year and two years.

The news was welcomed by The Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Group (SDPG) and David T Hughes, who were also involved with the campaign

Mr Hughes said: “It’s great news that having fought for a decade to save these buildings, they have passed to an organisation which is more likely to treat them with the respect they deserve.

“It’s been a long struggle but we are there at last.”

Justin Webb, secretary of the SDPG, added: “We are very pleased.

“This has been the culmination of what we have been campaigning for and it’s the icing on the cake.

“It’s what we have been after all along – it’s fantastic news.”

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