Flats site could be hiding treasures
The site of a former school which developers hope to bulldoze could be sitting on a wealth of historical riches.
Roman burials, parts of a Norman castle and a Saxon building are among the treasures thought to be buried beneath the St Mary Bredin School – which could now become a 146-bed student block.
Canbury Holdings Ltd has officially submitted proposals for a five-storey building on the site off the city’s ring-road – four months after the Gazette exclusively revealed the plans were being drawn up.
If approved, the flats would form the next phase of student housing in Rhodaus Town following the recently launched 540-bed Palamon Court.
It is thought the elevated mound which the Victorian school sits on was created during the construction of trenches for the Norman motte and bailey castle that once stood in the area.
Experts also believe there is a high chance of Roman quarry pits on the spot, as well as a Second World War air raid shelter and a late Saxon building.
They also think well-preserved Roman burials and remains of the Norman bailey are at the site, which is considered an area of archaeological importance.
The remains of the castle are considered to be of very high national significance, but developers argue they carry limited heritage because of previous damage.
However, Paul Roberts, inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, disagrees.
“We think that the remains are closely associated with and contribute to the national importance of the castle,” he said.
“We also think that they have enhanced value due to their association with the town walls and the stone castle, and have research potential.”
But Mr Roberts does go on to underline that the archaeological significance should not hold back the city’s progression. He said: “We think that the buried remains have very little amenity value and we recognise that preserving them would have a high opportunity cost to the city.
“While we think that archaeological remains are of national importance and should be considered of equivalent importance to a scheduled monument, we think that the likely harm to heritage significance of the whole asset is likely to be less than substantial and that this harm can be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.”
Designed by architect Guy Hollaway, the student flats will be a car-free zone – a move which has been looked favourably upon by Kent County Council thanks to the “highly unlikely” increase in traffic.
There have been fears that the flats are too high for the area – with the top storey being visible over the city wall from the Dane John Gardens. But developers say the exterior will blend seamlessly into the Canterbury architecture.
Facilities for students will be shared between the Palamon Court development and the new blocks, with access created between them.
To view the plans, visit www.publicaccess.canterbury. gov.uk and search for the CA//17/02456 application. The deadline for public comments is Friday, December 1.
Plans for new student flats in Canterbury have now been submitted. Guy Hollaway, right, has designed the proposed five-story flats
The former St Mary Bredin School may sit on Roman artefacts