An historic former military hospital in Dorchester could be converted to six apartments.

Developers says the planning proposal could be the best way of preserving the building on the town’s Grove Industrial estate.

It has been empty for a number of years after last being used as offices and is one of the few buildings to remain intact from the days of the Maumbury Barracks. The hospital was originally part of the Royal Horse Artillery Barracks, built in 1799. and served the barracks and soldiers families until the mid 20th Century.

It was also used by those held at the Prisoner of War camp at Dorchester – which, at its peak held 4,500 men. Many of the buildings which had formed the barracks were sold to Royal Mail and Dorset County Council in the early 1960s.

The former military hospital is one of two Grade II listed buildings within the trading estate, the other being the former riding school which is now used by a carpet business and a cleaning company.

An application to develop the former hospital comes from local businessman Mr Barry Crook who says the conversion would help protect the building with minimal alterations to its external appearance.

“The proposals seek to convert a heritage asset in order to secure its most viable use;

therefore guaranteeing its conservation for years to come. The plans have been drawn up such that they create minimal intervention within the building and allow the character of the original building to shine and be appreciated in its best condition.

The design takes opportunities to restore period features which have been lost over time, such as reopening chimney breasts, to create homes with a unique sense of character,” said an outline of the application.

Conversion of the building will also require listed building consent.

Public comments on the application are open, via the Dorset Council website, or local council offices, until May 28th.

The application is expected to be discussed on Monday evening at a meeting of the Dorchester Town Council planning committee, although its comments are only advisory. A final decision is expected to be made by planning officers at the Dorset Council, unless it is put forward for the first local area planning board of the new unitary council expected to be held in the last week of May.