The re-development of Howe Barracks by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) brings the opportunity to provide much needed new housing close to the centre of the city of Canterbury. The barracks is to be disposed of as it is now superfluous to defence requirements. PBA was contracted by the Valuation Office Agency to develop a masterplan and secure outline planning permission for a residential-led scheme for the site.
The barracks includes large areas of scrub and grassland which is contiguous with similar habitats in the adjacent Chequers Wood and Old Park SSSI and jointly support species protected by European and UK legislation, including bats, dormice, reptiles, badgers and species of bird with a high conservation status.
A challenging timeline eliminated the option to undertake key baseline surveys ahead of submission of the planning application. PBA’s ecology team therefore worked with Canterbury City Council to agree that a desk based study and habitat condition assessment was adequate to inform scheme design and ensure validation of the planning application, and that the outcome of a suite of bespoke surveys could be submitted at a later date, ahead of determination.
This consultative approach was key to delivering against the DIO’s challenging timeline; it also informed an ecology-led approach to masterplan design that protected the key features of the adjacent SSSI and provided new opportunities for protected species within the site. Both were important as PBA successfully guided the application through the planning process, securing a consent that will deliver much needed additional housing, local facilities and a new park for residents of east Canterbury.