New homes in Kent alongside new facilities for soldiers

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has announced that it will invest in better facilities for service men and women in East 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, allowing obsolete areas to be released for civilian housing development.

Working with Shepway District Council, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the MOD’s property and services provider, has prepared 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 ensuite 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 (1 RGR), whilst 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR) 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.”

Ends

Note for Editors

1.Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It is responsible for managing and maintaining land and properties to meet the current and future needs of the MOD and personnel at home and abroad, and to support current operations.

2.Our work includes providing, supporting and improving: operational units; single living and service family accommodation; training areas and historic military sites. DIO actively manages these to ensure the needs of Defence are met, value for money is achieved; our heritage is protected and we achieve our environmental goals.

3.Overlooking the English Channel, Shorncliffe Garrison has a proud history dating back to Napoleonic times and a strong association with the citizens of Folkestone and East Kent.  As a core military site it has a long term future in particular as the regimental home of the Royal Gurkha Rifles and also as Britain’s largest training base for preparing soldiers prior to operational deployments. 

4.The Shorncliffe Rationalisation Project has been running since 2009 whilst DIO experts have looked at how to make the Garrison more sustainable by reducing its footprint, cut running costs and provide improved living and working conditions for servicemen and civilians on a cost-neutral basis. 

5.Army 2020 described how the Army would be comprised of Reaction Forces, Adaptable Forces and Force Troops and would continue to be based across the United Kingdom. It specified that there would be Regional Points of Command (RPoCs) whose responsibilities would revolve around engagement with UK society and UK Homeland Resilience as well as acting as the ‘home’, non-deployable command for an area.  These RPoCs are based on the already existing regional brigade headquarters, with some changes.

6.Taylor Wimpey plc is a UK-focused residential developer which also has operations in Spain. Our vision is to become the UK’s leading residential developer for creating value and delivering quality. For more information about Taylor Wimpey please visit about.taylorwimpey.co.uk

Further information:

Press enquiries to:

Tony Moran - DIO press office on 0121 311 3879 or email tony.moran572@MOD.uk

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