18-24 The Old High Street
The development of these buildings comprised of refurbishment, part reconstruction and part extension due to the critical status determined by FTHI. The premises are now in use, with both commercial and residential tenants.
The buildings in this area have great heritage value. The High Street was a very busy thoroughfare from the 18th to the mid-20th century, but declined in the second half of the 20th century. Three of these properties were owned by a local grocer in 1782 and there is evidence that all the buildings were once retail premises.
Number 16, adjoining number 18, is a gap space where a building may have been destroyed by shellfire on the 12th of March 1943, when buildings on the other side of the road were also damaged and destroyed.
In the 1960s, 24 was combined with 20 and 22 to create a builders’ merchant.
In 1972, one Councillor suggested demolishing the street altogether and rebuilding, but its heritage value was recognised and it was then included in the Folkestone Conservation Area and therefore protected. Around 1973, The High Street was renamed The Old High Street.
In 1992 the Millets outdoor clothing store took over the leases of 18-24 to create one single retail unit on the ground floor and areas for stock, staff and administration on the upper floors. Millets vacated the premises in 1997 following a fire. Since then, the buildings have mostly remained empty and were purchased by the Creative Foundation in 2003 from the owners of the individual premises.
18-24 The Old High Street
The plan for these properties was to bring them back into use, so they could once again contribute to the character and economic activity of the Old High Street.
The heritage value of these properties, the severity of their dilapidation and their potential to add visual and economic impact to the top of the Old High Street combined to give the premises “Critical” status within the Folkestone Townscape Heritage Initiative.
Block A (18 the Old High Street): structure retained/repaired, internal layout alterations with extension and refurbishment.
Block B (20-22 the Old High Street): structure retained/repaired, internal layout alterations with extension and refurbishment.
Block C (24 The Old High Street): structure retained/repaired, internal layout alterations and refurbishment.
These plans reinstate the original style of the premises, including restoring the façade and the characteristic descending stepped shop front and upper floors.
The ground floor of 18, 20 and 22 constitutes one retail unit (Steep Street Coffee House), with the ground floor of no. 24 being used for a smaller retail unit (Mannafesto).
New access to the first floor will be created using the existing ground floor door of no. 18. The distinction between no. 22 and 20 is reinstated, contributing to and enhancing the street scape. This also enabled street access to the flats on the first floor of no. 22 and 20. The listed status of no. 24 prevented any external alteration to the street façade, although the historic entrance was reinstated to this building. Adding these two access points from the street means we are reinstating the original four historic doorways which had been reduced to 2 over the past few decades.
The Architects employed and acting as overseers of the work as it progressed were Pringle Richards Sharratt. They came with prior experience in buildings of architectural and historic interest and have a particular skill in bringing these precious but often neglected buildings back to full use and extending their life. Further details can be found here on their website: www.prsarchitects.com.
The principle contractor engaged in the works are Arkay Building Services ltd. Further details can be found on their website: www.arkaybuilding.co.uk.