Construction work on 55 extra care flats for the elderly on the site of the now-demolished St Martins House on Queen Street, Gillingham, could begin in August.
The existing building on the site was pulled down in the autumn of 2019 by owners Dorset Council despite strong local opposition to losing the red-brick structure, built by entrepreneur Thomas Hudson in the 19th century as a show home.
Instead the site has been sold to Dorchester-based housing association Magna Housing who will put up the 55 apartments for social rent, and which should be ready for use in under two years.
Planning permission for the development was granted by Dorset Council earlier this year.
A spokesperson for Magna said: ‘We expect the new scheme to start on site during August or early September this year. We hope to have the scheme finished around the Spring of 2023. Construction work will be undertaken by Drew Smith, who have considerable experience of building extra care facilities.’
‘The spokesperson continued: ‘The scheme consists of 55 apartments for social rent with a guest suite, laundry, communal dining and a variety of other communal facilities. Each apartment is fully self-contained, but residents will have access to all of the communal facilities and will be able to opt in to on-site care provision as required.
‘The apartments will be let to people with a local connection, using a set of assessment criteria, and will go through a panel process to determine eligibility.’
Magna says that anyone interested in registering their interest in living in the scheme for either themselves, or for a friend or relative, should contact Dorset Home Choice (www.dorsethomechoice.org / 01258 454111) in the first instance.
The design for the new site, images of which are shown here, is not to everyone’s taste.
At one planning meeting former Gillingham mayor Councillor Barry Von Clemens described the planned design as ‘an eyesore on Queen Street’ and a ‘carbuncle’.