Seven World War II forts in the Thames Estuary could be turned into a 44-bedroom hotel with a spa, museum and restaurant.
Local businessman David Cooper has proposed the conversion of the Redsand Forts, which were designed by civil engineer Guy Maunsell and built in 1942 to protect Kent’s coastal areas from German attack.
‘We want to keep the integrity of the forts,’ says Cooper, who came up with the idea after working with preservation group Project Redsand. ‘They’ve been battered by storms for almost 73 years. I’m amazed to see them standing strong.’
Aros Architects have drawn up plans for the hotel scheme, proposing a central hub around the existing control tower where guests would arrive by helicopter. Five of the towers would provide accommodation while another would house a museum.
Glazed bridges would connect five of the forts to the central tower, home to a bar, lounge and restaurant.
‘There is an other-worldly atmosphere about the forts, almost like something from a science fiction movie,’ says Jenny Fitzgerald, associate director of Aros Architects. ‘No doubt this is an ambitious, large-scale project but initial advice indicates the forts are structurally sound.’
Discussions have already taken place with two developers to realise the hotel and Cooper has consulted with the Port of London Authority and Crown Estates, which owns Redsand Forts’ seabeds.
The structures, built to shoot down Nazi aircraft and doodlebugs, were decommissioned by the MoD in the 1950s and later used as a base for pirate radio stations in the 1960s. They have been lying empty ever since.
Cooper’s proposal for Redsand Forts follows the example of Spitbank Fort, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, which opened as a private island hotel in 2012.