Defence Conversion . . .



Defence Conversion: the Portsmouth Harbour Version

In 2017-2018 she is working on a book: Defence Conversion: the Portsmouth Harbour Version with Martin Marks OBE about the many ex-defence sites have found new civilian uses in the last half century, a microcosm of this complex process which is happening all over the world.

Portsmouth Harbour has one of the densest concentrations of specialised defence establishments in the country – reflecting the Dockyard and Garrison’s strategic importance.  Over the past half century, barracks, forts, military lines, the gunwharf, victualling and ordnance yards, ship testing tanks and the country’s earliest naval hospital have found new, civilian uses or are in the process of doing so.  This book explores this complex transition - with the help of the participants. 

Why and how were these sites, so often important in national history declared redundant from their defence roles, and who has transformed them into their extraordinary variety of new uses? They have found new life as industrial estates, storage for historic military vehicles, museums, art gallery, art cinema and multi-purpose auditorium, flats, shopping centre, leisure facilities, a traditional boatbuilding and restoration school, conservation laboratory, archaeology and marine research centre, school, riding stables, luxury hotels, student hostel, rifle range, band practice room, boxing gym, scrap recycling yard, squash courts, nature trails, open air arena, climbing wall, fitness trail, rose garden, public open space - and this conversion process is still ongoing.

Dr. Celia Clark is an expert on the transition of former defence sites to civilian uses.  Her book: Sustainable Regeneration of Former Military Sites edited with Dr. Samer Bagaeen published by Routledge in 2016 explores case studies from China, Taiwan, Holland, the UK, US and other countries, written by planners and academics.  It is the first book to explore this undocumented process which is happening in many parts of the world.

On 13 October 2017 the Royal Town Planning Institute South East Branch held a seminar with the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust at Burseldon Brickworks to consider current practice in land disposals by the Defence Infrastucture Organisation of the Ministry of Defence and the implications for future South East sites on the disposal list.   It highlighted the role of planners, local authority conservation officers, architects, developers and community representatives in the transition process.  It examined the roles of central and local government  and of former and current regional and national agencies.  It also identified the potential social, economic and environmental benefits of these redevelopments, sharing experience of defence site redevelopment and models of good sustainable practice: details from  Recommendations on how to improve the disposal and redevelopment process made by the participants were sent to the chair of the Ministry of the Defence Select Committee Julian Lewis MP in April 2018, asking for a response from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.