Wiltshire has a long and proud history of association with the military. This was further strengthened in March 2013 when the government announced thousands of service personnel would be making Wiltshire their permanent home by the end of the decade.
As part of the government's Army Basing Programme, an additional 4,000 service personnel and their families are due to move to Wiltshire by the end of the decade. The MOD is investing around £1bn into the programme. 5 RIFLES moved to Salisbury Plain in summer 2016 and the 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade will be moving to Wiltshire in 2019, swelling the population by an additional 7,000.
Since that announcement, Wiltshire Council has been working closely with key partners to ensure the right level of facilities and services including education, transport, leisure and healthcare provision are in place in time for the relocation of service personnel and their families.
One of those key partners is the MOD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which is responsible for procuring, managing and maintaining the MOD estate, as well as providing related support services to the MOD.
The DIO is providing service family accommodation of some 900 new dwellings at Bulford, Ludgershall and Larkhill in addition to purchasing 100 homes at Tidworth. There are also plans for a number of new buildings and extensions to existing facilities in its establishments at Perham Down, Larkhill, Bulford, Tidworth and Upavon to provide additional training, living, mess and technical capacity. The three main builds for service family accommodation will be decided at a strategic planning committee.
Meanwhile, DIO and Wiltshire Council are finalising the s106 agreement which will confirm the proposed MOD contributions to infrastructure to support the planning applications.
A series of liaison visits is ongoing with Wiltshire Council staff visiting the service personnel and their families in Germany and groups from Germany visiting to find out details on schools and information on settling in the UK.
In planning this work, Wiltshire Council and the MOD are engaging other public authorities such as the NHS and the emergency services to ensure plans are sustainable to deliver services to the military community without detriment to the civilian community.
Communities have been kept informed of progress via monthly newsletters and Area Board briefings which are issued to parish councils within the Amesbury, Pewsey, Tidworth and Warminster area boards.
Image: Defence Imagery