More than 30 houses on the Howe Barracks estate that would make for perfect family homes for local people are sitting empty and suffering more and more vandalism as a result of “utterly negligent behaviour” by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Canterbury City Council says today (Thursday 4 October).
The 33 properties in Sobraon Way are owned by a company called Annington but are on a long lease to the MoD, which no longer has a use for them. But the MoD has left them empty and shown no interest in bringing them back into a habitable condition. Repairs will cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, with the figure rising all the time.
Council Leader Cllr Simon Cook said: “This is utterly negligent behaviour by the Ministry of Defence. They have denied many families a home and our view is that they should be ashamed of what’s happened.
“To be absolutely clear, we have made the running with the MoD from the moment we were aware these properties could be available, in order to try and secure them for local families. Hundreds of officer hours have gone into this and we even got as far as starting the procurement process in order to secure a contractor to renovate the homes as quickly as possible should a deal have been done.
“Sadly the MoD has shown total disinterest in negotiating with us and no understanding of how important this issue is to us and our residents. Despite our constant chasing, it has been impossible to get them to engage on any serious level.”
The council understands the MoD now plans to pass these houses back to Annington.
Cllr Cook said: “Local people can be reassured that we’ll be urgently pursuing discussions with Annington to see what can be done. We hope they will appreciate our concerns and desire to bring the properties back into use far more than the MoD has.”