Published: 06:00, 28 July 2021
The clock tower in Sheerness will return in different colours after it undergoes extensive refurbishment – but the work could take longer to start after Swale council “forgot” to apply for planning permission.
The clock in Sheerness High Street is set to be “restored to its former glory” after a number of defects have mounted on the 119-year-old timepiece.
It comes after the 36-foot tall tower was fenced off in February after an inspection found a number of problems including some fractures at the top of the structure.
The Grade II-listed monument was built out of iron in 1902 at a cost of around £360 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.
It was repainted in 2002 for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and then painted blue and red in 2012 for her Diamond Jubilee.
When it returns, it will be in its original green, yellow and gold colours.
Plans for the repairs were discussed at the local authority’s planning committee meeting on Thursday.
Cllr Cameron Beart (Con), who represents Queenborough and Halfway on the council, said: “Embarrassing moment at Swale Planning Committee.
"The planning officer reported the council has forgotten to apply for planning permission so even with listed building consent granted unanimously this evening, the works still cannot proceed.
“The head of planning was asked, by me, how long we expect the process to now take.
"He said he couldn’t predetermine his position but the application, once received, would have to go through the full planning process again including full public consultation before it could be reported to the planning committee again.”
Specialist clock repairers Smith of Derby have been appointed and the clock tower will be removed and taken 187 miles north.
Once disassembled, it will be transported to Derby where a full restoration of the clock feature and internal mechanisms will take place.
It will mean Christmas time will be different in Sheerness this year.
Sheerness Town Council heard yesterday (Tuesday) that the clock tower is likely to be taken away in September for essential repairs after Swale council approves planning permission for it to be dismantled.
The work is so detailed and sensitive it is unlikely the timepiece will be back until the new year.
It means the town council must re-think its plans for the festive lights switch-on.
The ceremony, always held around the clock, had to be cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The clock’s planned new-look of green will also clash with the rest of the town’s blue street furniture which will get a fresh lick of paint in the next few weeks. Benches have already been painted.
A Swale council spokesman added: “We’ve applied for planning permission and plans to remove the tower are underway. Our contractors have an eight week mobilisation period before removing it and we’re confident planning matters will be resolved before then.”