Turnkey Enabling Solution for the Former Canterbury Prison

Demolition project background

Canterbury prison was closed in 2013 after 205 years of service. During its years of operation, the site served multiple purposes including a Country Gaol, Home Office storage facility and Naval Detention Centre, before finally being converted to a specialised foreign language prison.

The prison closed in 2013 and a little over a year later the site was purchased by Canterbury Christ Church University with the intention of increasing the size of their city campus by five acres and bring together their North Holmes Road and Augustine House sites.

The long-term vision for the development of the site is to open new facilities for the Science, Technology and Health Departments, followed by a sensitive conversion of the Prison to create new facilities including a Heritage Centre.

What began as a standalone demolition package evolved into a turnkey enabling solution which called upon all divisions of the DDS Group incorporating DDS Environmental for Asbestos Removal, DDS Demolition and DDS Contracting to deliver the groundworks package alongside our sister company TW Services for material removal.

CCCU’s decision to opt for a “single-source” solution provided a seamless integration between packages and eased the burden of management. Both parties, CCCU and DDS,  benefited from a respectful and enjoyable partnership, we were incredibly pleased and honoured to deliver the turnkey enabling solution as the beginning of their journey.

We are also very grateful to CCCU for their positive feedback:

“DDS completed the demolition and enabling works packages for the Kent and Medway Medical School project at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) in the latter part of 2018. During the 12 month project we found them to be highly efficient, diligent and honest. They displayed the skill and experience of a tier one contractor with the client focussed care and courtesy of a small, family run, local business that values the ongoing relationships that can be forged and maintained through a collaborative partnership with trust at its core.

The project was delivered on time and under budget.

I would not hesitate to work with DDS on similar projects in the future”.

Kevin Galvin, Department of Estates and Facilities Services, Canterbury Christchurch University

“As Architects for this project we can confirm that DDS were a pleasure to work with from start to finish. They were cooperative, fair, proactive, and dealt with all issues with a partnering ethos. We would have no hesitation whatsoever in working with or recommending DDS to others.”

Mark Haslett, Partner, Hamilton Architects

“DDS were proactive, helpful, with good communication and delivered on time and within budget.  Based on my experience at Canterbury Christ Church University I would be happy to recommend DDS.”

Adam Granger – Internal Project Manager at Canterbury Christ Church University



  • Install real-time environmental monitoring stations (dust, noise and vibration).
  • Soft Strip fixtures, fittings and combustible materials ahead of demolition.
  • Demolish numerous outbuildings (collectively known the Backlands area).
  • Demolish the unlisted sections of the prison boundary wall.
  • Demolish the accommodation block.
  • Crush all hardcore and concrete arisings to a 6F2 specification.


  • Strip artex textured coatings from ceiling.
  • Remove thermal insulation from within the Boiler Boom.
  • Strip asbestos contaminated pipework from within floor ducts.
  • Provide and Watching Brief whilst asbestos contaminated hotspot was dealt with as part of the bulk excavation.


  • Bulk excavation and disposal of 12,000m3 soils under the Governance of an Archaeological Watching Brief.
  • Oversee the installation of over 100lin/m sheet piling wall (6m in height).
  • Installation of 100m reinforced concrete capping beam and associated vehicle parapets to sheet pile wall.
  • Provide full Site Engineering Control.
  • Preparation of formation layer.
  • Installation of land drainage.
  • Installation of 8,000m2 capping layer / drainage blanket.

Achievements and Successes

  • Acted as principal contractor for the through all phases of the project.
  • The cohesive DDS Group entered into an intelligent partnership with CCU, very different from the traditional Employer vs Contractor relationship. This open book approach was welcomed by both parties and was the catalyst to the project being delivered on-time and on-budget.
  • On site processing in excess of 2000 tonnes of demolition arisings to form an 8000m2 drainage blanket across the pile mat formation. The reuse of site-won material not only offered better value to the employer, it also bolstered the projects sustainability efforts and eased congestion that would have otherwise arisen from site traffic.
  • A rigorous testing regime was undertaken which enabled us to identify and separate the inert soils from the non-hazardous so that end disposal costs were improved.
  • The major earthworks were undertaken under the governance of a archaeological watching brief.
  • Providing week-by-week look-ahead programmes and detailing potentially disruptive operations to allow all campus departments to manage their schedules effectively