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First families move into council homes at Howe Barracks


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The first families from an east London borough have begun occupying homes on the former Howe Barracks site in Canterbury.

They started arriving on Monday – little more than a month after Redbridge Borough Council secured 147 former military family homes on the estate behind Littlebourne Road.

The east London council outmuscled Canterbury City Council in a bidding war to obtain the tenancy for the homes as both sought to find places for families on their housing waiting lists.

Ismail Darioglu with wife Leyla and their children Yunus and Kubra
Ismail Darioglu with wife Leyla and their children Yunus and Kubra

Among those making a new life in Canterbury is 32-year-old Turkish Kurd Ismail Darioglu, who has been in the UK for three years. He has been in temporary accommodation ever since he moved to the UK with his wife and children.

“Redbridge said that if we wanted to stay in London then we would have to stay in the hostel,” Ismail said.

“It was better to come to Canterbury where my wife and children can live in a house. It’s a good house and it’s clean.”

His wife Leyla, 29, and children Yunus, three, and nine-month-old Kubra are now living in a semi-detached in Aisne Drive, one of the warren of small streets which had houses Army families and are named after battles.

Their neighbours are other Redbridge tenants, including a man from India who had lived in the same hostel as them and people from other parts of the world who have settled in Britain in recent years.

Homes in Aisne Drive are being occupied by families being moved from east London
Homes in Aisne Drive are being occupied by families being moved from east London

Ismail says he was forced to leave Turkey and arrived in Britain as a refugee.

“As Kurds, things were very difficult for us in Turkey,” Ismail said.

“There was awful treatment for us and we knew that people were dying every day, It’s not somewhere I ever want to go back to. We are looking forward to a new life in Canterbury. It seems like a nice place.”

Ismail says his first tasks will be attending the Canterbury City Council offices and finding a nursery for his son.

The city council had hoped to secure the decommissioned barracks’ family homes to help reduce the 2,500 names on its housing waiting list.

Families have been relocated from east London
Families have been relocated from east London

But it was outbid by Redbridge, which offered Annington, the private property firm which owns the houses, a better deal.

Canterbury says its job is now to help those arriving from root themselves in the city.

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