The barracks was originally built in the 1860s to house two battalions of troops. The original Victorian buildings were a long and monotonous brick structure broken by towers in the centre. These buildings were replaced by two 13-storey concrete tower blocks in the 1960s. The tower blocks were used to accommodate four companies from the Guards Regiments.
Development of the site
On 6 September 2005 Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid, announced that Chelsea Barracks would be sold. He described it as needing extensive renovations. The site was vacated in 2008 with the troops transferred to the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich. The site was part of the Ministry of Defence's Project MoDEL that saw it and five other sites across London sold off, mainly for housing.
Westminster City Council published its draft planning brief for the Chelsea Barracks site in September 2006. It included a commitment to develop 50% of the site with affordable housing. A Community Forum was established by local residents in April 2006 with the support of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, John Hutton MP, to campaign for greater transparency in the sale of the barracks site and for the 50% affordable homes commitment to be realised.
The barracks is in one of London's most expensive residential areas and was originally expected to sell for £250m. In April 2007 the Ministry of Defence agreed to sell Chelsea Barracks in its 12.8 acres (5.2 ha) site for £959 million to a consortium consisting of Qatari Diar and the CPC Group. The Times reported that "The enclave, between Sloane Square and the River Thames, now has the unofficial title of Britain’s most expensive residential development site at £70.3m per acre." On 1 February 2008, the Joint Venture took possession of the site. Subsequently CPC’s interest in the Joint Venture company, Project Blue Ltd, was acquired by Qatari Diar which now owns 100% of the site.  Different design proposals for development of the site have been put forward by Richard Rogers and by Charles, Prince of Wales. Westminster City Council claim that the participation by the Prince has encouraged healthy public debate. Squire and Partners, with Dixon Jones and landscape designer Kim Wilkie, have been selected by Qatari Diar to create a master plan for Chelsea Barracks.
In early June 2009, the developers, Qatari Diar withdrew their plan to build 552 flats in 17 blocks. In May 2010 some of the developers made an £81m claim at the High Court, blaming Prince Charles for the withdrawal of a planning application.
Outline planning for nearly 600 luxury residential units on the 12.8-acre site was eventually approved by Westminster Council in the Summer of 2011. Following this approval, the developer did not progress with the development until early 2013, when the whole project was put "under review" by Qatari Diar.
In September 2013, The Chelsea Barracks Partnership sent a letter to local residents informing them of plans to demolish all existing buildings on the Barracks site, with foundation works on the new scheme slated to start "in early November ".
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- Developers withdraw barracks plan BBC News
- Prince blamed in £81m court claim over barracks plans BBC News
- Qatari Diar puts Chelsea Barracks on hold PrimeResi.com
- Forward March: Chelsea Barracks works to start in early November PrimeResi.com