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Chatham Maritime Masterplan

Rochester and Gillingham, Kent

Aerial water colour

Sector: Conservation, Cultural, Education, Healthcare, Hotels and leisure, Landscape, Master Planning, Office, Regeneration, Residential, Retail, Transport
Client: English Partnerships/Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust
Project stage: Complete

Gibberd was jointly appointed by English Partnerships and the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust to prepare the masterplan for the redevelopment of the former Royal Naval Dockyards at Chatham in Kent. Whilst part of the 400 acre site incorporating one of the three Victorian Dock Basins was retained as a working port, the remaining area was acquired for development and the management of the Georgian Dockyard transferred to the charitable Trust.

The original dockyard was based on an Island in the River Medway, St Mary’s Island, known to have been used by the Romans as a ferry point. The creek, which separated the island from the mainland, was blocked off by the 16th century and defences built to protect the area from continental invaders.

Chatham was well-established by the Tudor Period and by the reign of Elizabeth was a haven for overwintering the majority of the English fleet.  The Dockyard was rebuilt in the 18th century and a significant amount of building remains from the period, including the Officer’s Terrace, an unusual interpretation of the Georgian terrace form adapted for the sloping terrain; mast ponds; various sheds re-using timbers from dismantled warships; and the oldest surviving storehouse, incorporating the dockyard clock.  Together with Victorian additions, including the storehouses and a huge ropery, and dry dock structures, they represent one of the greatest concentrations of heritage buildings in the country, many listed Grade I and Grade II*.

The Gibberd masterplan envisaged a wide range of uses, from a ‘living museum’ based in the Historic Dockyard, with a commercial/marina environment centered on the dock basins, and a residential enclave on the island with views of the estuary. The former land ship ‘HMS Pembroke’ was retained as research and development/educational uses and is now the Medway campus of the Universities of Greenwich and Kent.