Announced in 2013, the Regular Army Basing Plan set out the location changes required to accommodate Army units returning from Germany and units rebasing within the UK as part of the Army 2020 response to the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Plan has now transitioned into a delivery programme that affects most areas of the Army as more than 100 units either relocate, re-role, convert or disband.
The major element of the Army Basing Programme (ABP) is the relocation of 4,300 troops and their families to the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA). Integrating this number of people with the existing military community and the civilian population is a complex and sensitive exercise. Our work with the DIO sets out a Masterplan for the socio-economic framework required to deliver the ABP and meet the Army’s desire to create balanced and sustainable communities.
The Masterplan establishes the constraints and opportunities for new development, as well as providing an overview of where development will take place. This includes expansion of current army bases, additional training facilities and new housing for service families plus the supporting infrastructure required, such as new schools and community facilities.
Transport and environmental sustainability
Early engagement of key stakeholders ensured that local issues were taken into account from project inception. This was especially important due to the sensitive environmental context of Salisbury Plain, characterised by an abundance of designated sites (both ecological and heritage) and close proximity to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
Long-term military use of the SPTA has restricted development and allowed the site to remain a highly sensitive habitat, internationally designated as a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area, with several species of nationally rare plants and animals. In addition to various habitat creation and translocation measures, the Masterplan allows for adjustment to the timing of works in order to mitigate the potential impacts of development.
Reducing environmental impact is also addressed in a Framework Travel Plan which aims to set in place the foundations and culture for a sustainable transport policy. This provides long-term commitment to reducing traffic through locating family accommodation close to camp and by engaging stakeholders to promote the healthier alternatives such as walking and cycling.
Benefit to local people and community
The ABP provided a unique opportunity to plan not only for a dedicated large-scale community of incoming military personnel, but also to realise attendant benefits to the established communities on Salisbury Plain, both civilian and military. Wiltshire Council took a lead role in working collaboratively with DIO and this close liaison, with them and other statutory consultees, helped to resolve any competing and conflicting interests. An extensive consultation process with local businesses, organisations and infrastructure providers, enabled a clear understanding of community aspirations, opportunities and fears. This is realised in the Statement of Community Involvement which accompanies the Masterplan and has received broad-based support of Parish and Town Councils, statutory consultees and the public at large.
The Masterplan will have an enduring legacy for Salisbury Plain, with investment in the social and physical infrastructure bringing economic re-invigoration and confidence to relatively isolated rural communities. It will guide the location of more than 1,000 new Service family homes avoiding the creation of ‘garrison settlements’ and providing improved education facilities, civilian use of military leisure facilities and a comprehensive network of cycle paths across the Plain. As a cornerstone of the ABP, the Masterplan will see significant expansion and consolidation of existing facilities in line with the Army’s firm objective to realise greater integration between civilian and military communities.