Maison Dieu, Dover, Outline Business Case
In 2014 we were delighted to be appointed by Dover District Council alongside Rena Pitsilli-Graham Architects and Haverstock Architects to develop an outline business case for the Maison Dieu in Dover. The Maison Dieu (or Dover Town Hall as it is known locally) is a grade II* listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument situated in the heart of Dover town centre.
The Maison Dieu (Godâ€™s House) was probably founded in 1203 by Hubert de Burgh to provide accommodation for pilgrims travelling predominantly to Canterbury to visit Thomas Becketâ€™s shrine. It was also used as an early hospital to care for the sick. From the 16th century the building was taken over by the Crown as a victualling yard providing vital supplies for the navy. During the 19th century the building was sold to the Town Council, extended and extensively remodelled by two of the most prominent Victorian architects; Ambrose Poynter and William Burges. The remodelling saw the introduction of an exquisite meeting hall, courtroom and gaol, all in the gothic revival style which is still in evidence today throughout the building. During the 1970â€™s the Maison Dieuâ€™s ownership passed to Dover District Council and since that time it has been used as a venue for a wide range of community events, activities and local government functions. (Information taken from â€˜Maison Dieu Dover: A History of Dover Town Hallâ€™ by Derek Leach, Dover Society, 2013.)
Due to a number of issues relating to access and the layout of the building elements have become under used or vacant. At the same time the physical fabric of the building has become tired and in places requires repair and restoration. We were commissioned to develop the business case and initial options for the restoration and regeneration of the building. Alongside the business case the architects are developing a Statement of Significance for the building, that will ensure that any options that are developed are based on a sound understanding of the building and itâ€™s heritage. We have undertaken extensive research, reviewed local socio-economics, policy, property market and comparable projects to inform the business case. Alongside this we worked with the District Council, Town Council, Dover Society, local stakeholders and existing users to identify realistic and deliverable options for the building and test these financially and non-financially. We have also identified potential funding sources for the any proposals to ensure deliverability.