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Former Sheerness military hospital could be used to house the homeless

By Chloe Holmwood

The historic former Sheerness military hospital could be used to house homeless people.

The possible future for the building, which was first used to treat injured and diseased Royal Navy sailors in 1857, was discussed at Swale council’s meeting by Cllr Ken Pugh, cabinet member for housing and well-being.

It had been threatened with demolition by Peel Ports to make way for a giant car park at the 32-acre former steel mill in Brielle Way as part of a £40 million investment.

The dockyard hospital on the steel mill site in Sheerness
The dockyard hospital on the steel mill site in Sheerness

But after an outcry, Swale council put a temporary building preservation notice on the hospital in March last year and, five months later, it was announced Historic England inspectors had surveyed the building and given it a Grade II listed status.

Now the council is considering taking it on and to transform it into temporary accommodation for homeless families.

Cllr Pugh said: “We’re looking into possibly using the military hospital because Peel Ports has no use for it and it’s a listed building so they can’t knock it down.

“We have expressed interest in using it for temporary accommodation for local homeless families.

“Officers are now in talks with Peel Ports to see what we can do and if it would be viable.

Cllr Ken Pugh
Cllr Ken Pugh

“I am keen to bring this building into use, if possible, but it’s very, very early days and there’s no guarantee that we can take it over yet.”

Cllr Pugh said the outside would not need too much refurbishment work but the inside would need lots done.

He said: “Inside, it’s still very much as it was in the Crimean days, with very large wards for soldiers and so on, so we’ve got to get people in there to see how much it would cost to convert and the viability of it.

“We are seriously looking into it, but it’s got to stack up,” he added.

Cllr Pugh said he was hoping to have some more definitive answers by the end of December.

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