Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sheerness: sustained involvement in a deprived community

The Georgian Group tries to be lean, fast-moving and versatile; yes, our formal role as a statutory consultee, commenting on planning applications, is key, but there are plenty of complementary ways we can exert positive influence on a locality. Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, one of the parts of Kent that scores highest on official indices of deprivation,  is a case in point. Here the Group has made a concentrated effort to encourage preservation of what remains of the 1820s Royal Dockyard, from where the Fighting Temeraire, famously depicted by Turner, was towed out to sea on its last voyage.

The Dockyard remnants include a little-altered run of junior officers' houses called Naval Terrace. Through our charitable estate agency arm,, we have sold one house in the terrace to a sympathetic buyer and hope shortly to be handling the sale of another. We have given an award to a third householder for his painstaking recreation of the original garden design; a further house, restored in exemplary fashion, will be entered for our awards this year. Another property is on our charitable locations hire directory, And we are helping to pay for the re-creation and reinstatement of the iron railings that enclosed the front of the terrace until the Royal Dockyard shut and degradation set in. Beyond that, we are actively involved in seeking solutions for the derelict 1820s church that sits alongside the terrace and also for the further terrace, currently entirely vacant, that sits behind it within the precincts of the working dock.     

Why this sustained and diverse involvement? Partly because the late Georgian buildings in Naval Terrace, and those around them, have intrinsic value. And partly because of our hope that resuscitation of the historic dockyard will act as a catalyst for wider regeneration in Sheerness.

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