Revised plan unveiled to improve housing and intersections at controversial former Bardell Wharf site in Rochester’s historic city centre

A revised plan to revitalise a neglected part of the historic city centre and improve a dangerous intersection is on display.

The proposal to develop a prominent corner formerly known as Bardell Wharf in Rochester has been revived several times over the years.

Donard Living has redesigned the Ironmonger Yard scheme, formerly known as Bardell Wharf, to be “more sensitive to the area”. Photo: Donard Living

A building permit had been issued for a larger project with 374 homes, but this has now been amended to allow for a smaller project that better suits the character of the area.

The new scheme, now called Ironmonger Yard, has been reduced to 296 apartments across four blocks – a reduction of 26% – and offers a mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes.

A public garden is proposed and the Star Hill junction has been redesigned to improve pedestrian safety and reconnect the High Street, which was a point of contention in the previous planning application.

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As part of their strategy, the developer and their transportation consultants conducted a major study of the intersection and came up with what they see as a solution to the ongoing safety issues.

Narrowing the motorway would allow for the creation of a new four-way crossing at the junction, improving the connection between High Street and Chatham Intra and enhancing the pedestrian experience.

Where the Ironmonger Yard site (formerly known as Bardell Wharf) is located at the busy intersection of Rochester High Street, Corporation Street and Star Hill. Photo: Google

A Section 106 Agreement could help fund this road improvement, but the proposed designs would be at the council’s discretion for implementation and would not form part of the planning application itself.

The new development will also provide space for bicycle parking for residents, while at least 20% of parking spaces will be equipped with charging points for electric vehicles.

This vast wasteland, which has lain fallow for decades, was once home to the now defunct Bourne and Hillier dairy, along with a number of warehouses and industrial buildings.

In the past, designs with three blocks, one of which has eleven floors, have been rejected by municipal planners and council members.

The City of Rochester Society has lodged an objection to some controversial plans for the housing project, arguing that the scheme is too large-scale and would impact the High Street and Chatham Intra conservation areas.

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Historic England agreed with these comments and considered that the height of the buildings could impact on Rochester’s historic skyline.

An impression of what new homes at Bardell Wharf could look like. Photo: Todd Architects

The current developer Donard Living presents its plans, which are now available for consultation.

According to the Belfast-based company, which is also behind plans to develop the former Buzz Bingo site in Chatham into housing, Ironmonger Yard offers a sustainable, ‘urban centre solution’ to help Medway meet its significant need for new housing in an area facing a shortage of building land.

The proposal provides for affordable housing, alongside a mix of other property types, including rental properties, owner-occupied homes and apartments for later occupancy.

“This development will transform an area of ​​vacant land that has been disused for many years and enhance a seriously neglected location at the end of the historic Rochester High Street,” the company said on its website promoting the site.

“The design of the plan creates a strong street frontage and the mixed tenure of the plan creates an inclusive community.

This development will transform an area of ​​vacant land that has been unused for years

“It is also an improvement on existing planning permission as it provides a greater variety of homes in more sympathetic designed buildings that complement the local architecture, particularly through the use of brick in the construction of the building, high quality paving and planting and traditional roof forms.

“Landscaping will open up the area and provide a high quality public space with low planting and urban trees, including a pedestrian link between the historic High Street and the emerging Rochester Riverside residential area.”

To view more planning applications and other public notices for your area, click here.

Donard Living says it wants to work with registered housing associations to ensure high-quality management of the new affordable homes.

A public exhibition will be held tomorrow (10th July) from 2pm to 7.30pm at the Medway Adult Education Centre, Rochester Community Hub, Eastgate, Rochester ME1 1EW.

Project team experts will be on hand to answer questions and you are welcome to drop in at any time.

The consultation process closes on 28 July and a planning application is expected to be submitted next month. More details can be found here , while feedback on the project can be provided here .

Medway Borough Council is expected to make a decision on the revised plan this autumn.

If the plan is approved, construction could start late this year or early next year. The first homes should be ready for occupancy in 2027.