Ministry of Defence to sell 13 sites for 17,000 homes

Amport House, Andover Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption Amport House in Andover, Hampshire, is one of 13 sites the Ministry of Defence is planning to sell

A total of 13 Ministry of Defence sites will be sold to provide land for up to 17,017 homes and will raise £225m, the government has said.

Defence minister Mark Lancaster said 12,565 of the homes were "expected to materialise in this Parliament".

He acknowledged this would impact on civilian and military staff but provisions were being made, he said.

The sites include an RAF base, barracks, ex-World War Two airfields and a chaplaincy centre.

They also include two golf courses at RAF Henlow and Southwick Park in Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Network Rail has announced it will release land at almost 200 sites for 12,000 new homes by 2020.

This includes 5,000 homes in London, 3,600 homes in Manchester and the north, 1,700 homes in the Midlands and the east of England and 1,400 homes in the south of England.

The 13 military sites that will be sold by the MoD are:

  • RAF Henlow, Bedfordshire
  • Middlewick Ranges, Essex
  • Amport House, Andover, Hampshire, the British Armed Forces chaplaincy centre
  • Land at Harley Hill, Catterick, North Yorkshire
  • Chalgrove Airfield, Oxfordshire, a former World War Two airfield
  • Colerne Airfield, Chippenham, Wiltshire, a former World War Two airfield
  • Azimghur Barracks, Chippenham, Wiltshire
  • Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, Grantham, Lincolnshire
  • Old Dalby, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
  • Venning Barracks, Telford
  • Parsons Barracks, Donnington
  • Southwick Park, Fareham, Hampshire
  • Royal Marines Stonehouse, Plymouth

The MoD said the land at Venning and Parsons Barracks are the only sites that will not have housing built on them, as they will be used for commercial development at the request of Telford and Wrekin Council.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "We are getting rid of land that we don't need to build homes that we do, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in the process.

"Our commitment to protect and increase the budget for our armed forces means that every penny of that will be reinvested into defence, helping to keep Britain safe."

But shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis said: "Affordable housing is desperately needed across the UK, particularly by service families, who have seen the cost of their housing go up as conditions get worse.

"So it's disappointing that the MoD has failed to say how many of these potential new homes will be affordable, or how many could be set aside for service personnel.

"In fact, they cannot even reassure us that these sites will be used to build new homes at all," he said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the sale would generate "hundreds of millions of pounds"

"What we're looking at is the double impact of 18,000 MoD staff losing their jobs and public land potentially being sold on the cheap for developers to profit from," a Public and Commercial Services union spokesman said.

"The government must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure any land sold not only realises its full value, but that house-builders are forced to ensure enough affordable homes are provided."

In a written statement, Mr Lancaster said consultations will take place over the coming weeks with "stakeholders" including trade unions, to determine the future of each site and their occupants.

"The release of land by the MoD has the potential to provide land for new homes and we will continue to engage with impacted local authorities to determine how the department's assessment of housing unit allocation against each site may be considered as part of the authority's Local Plan," he said.

"I acknowledge that these moves will have an impact upon civilian and military staff; the department is making arrangements to provide for units and functions based at sites which will not have a future defence requirement."

An MoD spokeswoman said it was too early to confirm how exactly it would affect staff at the sites, but she said "the majority" will be provided for and moved to accommodation elsewhere, for example.

Mr Lancaster said the sales would contribute £225m towards the MoD's £1bn target for land release sales, as set out in its spending review last year.

The release of the sites contributes to the government commitment to provide land for 160,000 homes by 2020, he said.

The 2015 Conservative manifesto pledged that 200,000 quality Starter Homes would be built over the course of the Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers under 40 and sold at 20 % below the market price.

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