Flats site could be hid­ing trea­sures

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Heartbreaking Statement - By Joe Wright jwright@thek­m­group.co.uk @joe_wright98

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

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