Affordable homes in former barracks: Canterbury, Uxbridge and Chattenden

Though attracting some controversy, the Government's barracks closure programme has put plenty of affordable homes on to the property market
One bonus of the Government's controversial barracks closure programme it is that more affordable homes will come to the market as a result. In Canterbury, for example, local councillors are already pushing forward with plans to transform Howe Barracks into a "proper community", with homes for local families and young singles and couples.

Meanwhile, property company Annington, which owns former married quarters once used by the Army, is accelerating the release of the refurbished properties for sale.

Barracks closure programme
From £105,000: new-build homes available in Rowner, Hants, which are priced competitively

Next week, houses in Whetstone, north London, and Chattenden, Kent, go on sale, and coming soon are homes in Uxbridge, west London, and the university city of Cambridge. Prices will start at around £165,000 for a three-bedroom semi.

Annington bought its huge 57,000-home portfolio from the Ministry of Defence in 1996. As well as managing homes that are let to Armed Forces personnel, the company brings forward estates for refurbishment and sale at the behest of the MoD. To date, it has sold more than 17,000 homes and is also building new ones from scratch.

A porch helps give plain homes a facelift
Most of the older homes are plain-looking terraces or semi-detached houses, and some have an institutional feel, but they offer good value for money, being spacious and often coming with a garage and well-established garden.

Normally the properties sell at a discount to the local market, and there is an opportunity for buyers to add value with improvements and extensions.

Annington puts in new kitchens and bathrooms and sometimes makes design modifications such as enhancing the exterior with smart porches, while fresh landscaping improves the street scene.

Chattenden, near Strood, is in the Kent commuter belt and has 35-minute train links to St Pancras. Several hundred more homes are for sale at other Annington sites, including new-build homes priced from £105,000 at Rowner, Hampshire.

A rolling programme is under way at former RAF Biggin Hill base, Kent, while at Badersfield, formerly RAF Coltishall in Norfolk, three-bedroom terrace houses cost from £110,000. More than 60 properties at Uxbridge will be released for sale later this year. Visit annington.co.uk Houses in Whetstone, postcode N20, are priced from £295,000, which is about 30 per cent lower than the average for the area, according to Julia Lodge of local estate agent Barnard Marcus.

Barracks closure programme
From £295,000: Whetstone homes which are 30 per cent lower than the area average
Discounts for the armed forces
Armed Forces personnel (current and former) qualify for price discounts of up to five per cent. At new private developments elsewhere, ex-servicemen and women can jump to the front of the queue by taking advantage of the Government's FirstBuy initiative, which offers an interest-free loan of up to 20 per cent of the purchase price.

Barratt has set up a hotline (0844 8156196) for Armed Forces personnel who are interested in buying at one of its London developments.

It offers discounts of £1,000 for every £25,000 of the price of a new home — so an £8,000 reduction when purchasing a £200,000 home. The offer also applies to surviving partners of military personnel who have died in service. Taylor Wimpey also offers an armed services discount — £500 for every £25,000 paid for a new home.

The government-backed Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme offers low-interest loans of between 15 and 50 per cent of the purchase price to serving forces members buying on the open market, up to a value of £300,000. Visit afhos.co.uk or telephone 0800 028 1980.

Some housing associations and naval charities, such as Greenwich Hospital, give priority to veterans and servicemen and women so it is worth registering with organisations in your area. An umbrella group called g15 represents the main London housing associations. Visit g15london.org.uk

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