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Kitchener Barracks to be converted for housing

By Chris Hunter

Plans to build a housing estate on a historic military site have been approved despite concerns it would not provide enough affordable housing.

The development of Kitchener Barracks in Dock Road, Chatham, would create up to 295 homes, while retaining historic features including part of the 1930s Khartoum Building, the Barrack Block, and the former Ordnance Store, which would be used as a shop, restaurant, pub and offices.

Medway Council’s planning committee welcomed the design of the scheme, but there was resistance over the lack of affordable housing.

The 1950s extension of the Khartoum building will be replaced by three apartment blocks. Picture: Latis.
The 1950s extension of the Khartoum building will be replaced by three apartment blocks. Picture: Latis.

While guidelines say new developments should provide 25 per cent affordable housing, the scheme only provides 15 per cent, which officers explained was acceptable due to rules introduced in November 2014 - which say affordable housing requirements only apply to any increase in floor space.

Cllr Nick Bowler (Lab) said: “A lot of people have sat round this committee and said it’s a good development, and I can’t argue with that.

“But I can’t support 15 per cent affordable housing and I’m certainly not going to worry about whether I’m inconveniencing a developer.”

But the majority were prepared to overlook the issue. Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con) said: “Keeping the straight lines, which keeps the military presence, I think is important. The retention of some of the historic artefacts has been extremely welcome.

The parade ground will be turned into an open public space. Picture: Latis.
The parade ground will be turned into an open public space. Picture: Latis.
The designs of the buildings have not been finalised as the plans are only at the outline application stage. Picture: Latis.
The designs of the buildings have not been finalised as the plans are only at the outline application stage. Picture: Latis.

“I think this will be a really first class addition to Medway.”

The barracks are the second oldest military site in Medway and were sold after being identified as surplus to military requirements.

Originally called Chatham Infantry Barracks, Kitchener was constructed in 1757 and its continuous military use since then makes it one of the oldest such sites nationally.

The site became known as Kitchener Barracks in 1928, and was used as accommodation by the Royal School of Military Engineering until June last year.

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