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Secret architect joins in battle to save historic Canterbury tannery

An anonymous architect has drawn up a set of alternative proposals for the controversial St Mildred's Tannery site in Canterbury.

The practitioner - who is determined to remain unnamed - is working in secret with SAVE Britain's Heritage as part of the campaign to get existing proposals by local practice Clague scrapped.

They are determined to save many of the site's listed buildings, which could be demolished if the current proposals for Bellway Homes get the go-ahead.

The heritage group has been opposing the scheme - which would replace the buildings with a new apartment complex - since the Clague proposals first came to light two years ago (AJ 5.9.02).

SAVE believes its alternative project would 'knit the site into the rest of the town', creating a series of new pedestrian walkways and converting the tannery buildings for use as offices, a hotel, a gallery and a pub.

SAVE's director Adam Wilkinson said he was delighted when the anonymous architect approached him with a project that would include 'the preservation of an important part of Canterbury's history'.

'This site was off-limits to the public and previously unloved because of the terrible smells that accompanied the tanning process, ' he said. 'Fortunately, that stench has now gone and a very rich and diverse range of buildings has been revealed.

'This is a great opportunity for Canterbury but to get it wrong would blight the city for a generation, ' he added.

However, Clague has hit back at the alternative scheme, insisting the only buildings marked for demolition under its plans are 'just tinsheds and eyesores'.

Project architect, Jamie Davenport, said that 'negotiations with planners and English Heritage were going very smoothly'.

'This new proposal doesn't surprise me in the slightest, as there is some opposition from heritage groups, ' he added. 'But we are retaining the buildings that EH and ourselves believe are the most important.We still expect to be submitting our proposals for planning in the middle of next month.'

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