When Shoebury Garrison closed, it offered a major opportunity for regeneration in an area of deprivation as its assets included several listed buildings, a conservation area, a nature reserve and a magnificent coastal setting. However, many of its historic buildings and its sea defences had fallen into decay.
The barracks and buildings of Shoebury Garrison were developed in 1849 and the site still played an important defensive role during both world wars. The historic barracks were built in a horseshoe shape around a parade ground and are a great example of the efforts made to reform and improve barrack design during the nineteenth century.
Refurbishment of the garrison’s historic buildings was a major element of a planning brief which, following public consultation, was prepared jointly by the MoD and Southend Borough Council. The brief was the basis for the site’s disposal in 2000 to Gladedale Homes and required a mixed development of housing, employment, leisure and community uses; a substantial public park, nature reserve and other open spaces; a heritage centre and cycle routes; and a ‘landmark building’ to mark the eastern entrance of the Thames Gateway which will be the subject of an architectural competition.
Outline planning permission was granted in 2002, and most of the historic buildings on the site have now been repaired and brought back into residential use. Sympathetic new housing by several architects, including Hawkins Brown, has also been built, and the original openness of the parade ground has been reinstated. The garrison’s cricket pitch has been restored and works on the park are now in progress.
The redevelopment creates a new residential and business community, allowing public enjoyment of a unique historic area.