The MOD has announced that it will invest in better facilities for service men and women in Kent, as a result of freeing up surplus Defence land to create up to 1,200 new homes.
The proposal is for a scheme that re-configures Shorncliffe Garrison, Folkestone, onto a smaller, more secure site. This allows obsolete areas to be released for civilian homes development and contibutes to the Government’s Plan for Growth national housing strategy.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the MOD’s property and services provider, has worked with Shepway District Council, to prepare a ‘Masterplan’ that provides new housing over the next 20 years on the surplus brownfield land.
Alongside the homes will be new community sports facilities, incorporating a new Army Cadet centre. There will also be a large area of informal public open space and improved education facilities.
DIO has now confirmed that Taylor Wimpey is the preferred bidder for developing the new homes as a sustainable expansion of Folkestone, after instructing property agents, GVA, to market the surplus land last year.
The sale of this land raises money for MOD to modernise the retained military estate, reducing running costs and saving money whilst providing the Armed Forces with first class working and living conditions.
Replacement facilities for the Army will start to be built this year as part of a rolling programme of improvements at Shorncliffe and nearby Lydd Camp.
These will include more than 100 en suite rooms for single service people. There will be modern office space for military and civilian staff, plus storage and training accommodation.
Brigadier Simon Wolsey OBE, Commander 2 (South East) Brigade, which is based at Shorncliffe, said:
This project is mutually beneficial in that it will see the disposal of unused land and outmoded buildings in order that purpose built modern accommodation can be provided for our personnel.
At the same time this will provide much-needed space for housing to our local community.
Shorncliffe is currently the headquarters of 2 (South East) Brigade and home to 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, whilst 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles are currently stationed in Seria, Brunei.
In total, it provides support to some 5,500 soldiers based throughout south-east England and Brunei.
As part of the Army 2020 restructure, HQ 2 (South East) Brigade will merge with HQ 145 (South) Brigade in 2014 to form a new Headquarters in Aldershot, known as 11 Infantry Brigade.
However, there are no other plans to change the Army’s use of Shorncliffe.
DIO principal estate surveyor, Charlotte Cordy-Redden, said:
DIO’s priority is to support our Armed Forces as they prepare for operations. We’re delighted to move forward with our scheme to rationalise Shorncliffe Garrison to the right size and right condition.
Working with Shepway District Council and other stakeholders has allowed us to produce a scheme that gets the best possible use out of the military estate, whilst balancing the needs of local people and providing Kent families with much-needed new homes.
Chris Lewis, Head of Planning Services at Shepway District Council said the council had worked hard with DIO over the last few years to produce a set of comprehensive planning policies for a modernised, military estate and much-needed new homes with improved local community facilities.
Mr Lewis said:
We look forward to discussing with the preferred bidders, Taylor Wimpey, a future planning application for the site that delivers these important policy objectives.
Peter Truscott, Taylor Wimpey South Divisional Chairman, commented:
We are looking forward to working with Shepway District Council and DIO to create an exciting new community and deliver much needed new homes, supporting infrastructure and facilities to Folkestone.