A buyer is being sought for Portsmouth’s historic former Royal Marines Museum, with potential occupiers and developers invited to submit bids in an informal tender process by early May.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy, which owns the site with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), has instructed commercial property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) and Hamptons International as sole joint agents to market the landmark site on Southsea seafront at Eastney.
The property dates back to 1865 when it was built as officers’ quarters and mess, and was used as the Royal Marines Museum from 1972 until 2017. It is now vacant following the closure of the museum and transfer of its artefacts to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where a larger, modernised interactive Royal Marines experience will open in 2020.
The Eastney site has potential for a range of uses including conferencing, education, a boutique hotel, residential development or healthcare facility. The potential development site comprises more than three hectares including the Museum building’s central core and north and south wings with an approximate internal floor area of 5,500s sq m.
Parts of the site, described by Historic England as “the most architecturally distinguished Officers’ barracks in England”, are Grade II listed. Covenants protect the memorials, memorial gardens and parade grounds on the site, ensuring any development is sensitive to the building’s history.
Robin Dickens, a director at LSH’s south coast offices, said: “This is an extremely rare opportunity to own a historic, prestigious and unique building which is part of Portsmouth’s proud naval history and our national heritage. The sale will ensure that this important building is preserved as a prominent part of the city’s landscape.
“We are proud that LSH’s expertise, knowledge of the region and appreciation of the site’s unique place in the city’s history have led the National Museum of the Royal Navy to entrust us with helping to find the right owner to secure the future of this site as it enters the next chapter in its story.”
The site is subject to several measures designed to preserve its historic aspects. Any development proposed will require support from a Heritage Statement and be subject to a reserved matters application which takes into account the site’s location in Conservation Area and the building’s listed status. Portsmouth City Council has expressed its wish to engage with prospective developers throughout the pre-application process.
Eastney Fort East and the flint perimeter wall east of the former museum building are protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The western façade of the museum building is protected as architecturally significant, and the state rooms of the central core of the building do not lend themselves to conversion.
The Museum was designed by William Scamp, director of the Admiralty Works Department, as the principal building within the Eastney Barracks site. Its Victorian construction includes an imposing central section with balcony colonnades, a twin external staircase and central stone gabling incorporating a coat of arms. Inside, the building retains its original layout, with a number of large “state rooms”, a reception, grand staircase, picture gallery and dining hall at first and second floor levels.