New garrison moves a step closer

PLANS for a massive £1.4 billion development - including a new garrison for Colchester and the building of 2,500 civilian homes - are set to clear their final hurdle next week, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.

PLANS for a massive £1.4 billion development - including a new garrison for Colchester and the building of 2,500 civilian homes - are set to clear their final hurdle next week, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.

After more than a year of legal negotiations and scrutiny the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to approve and sign a contract with private consortium RMPA Services.

The deal forms the biggest ever Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in Britain and one of the largest ever seen in Europe.

It will give the green light to the construction of the new Garrison on MoD land south of the current barracks and the creation of an “urban village” where the existing Army buildings now stand.


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Colchester's Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell said the signing of the contract represented a massive investment and also signalled an ongoing commitment to the town by the MoD.

“This guarantees the future of the Army in the town for the foreseeable future. The Army brings in over £100 million to Colchester's economy per as well as providing thousands of jobs. The town would be much poorer without them being here.

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“It is marvellous news for Colchester. It is excellent,” said Mr Russell, who was informed of the decision to sign the contract next week by MoD minister Ivor Caplin MP.

Mr Caplin said that construction of the Garrison was expected to start within two months.

Ken Jones, Colchester Borough Council's cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, said the go-ahead for the project was “immensely important” for the town.

“It is of enormous credit to the council officers and RMPA, who have been working together to achieve this.

“The intensity of negotiating over this amount of time and at this scale is often not understood or appreciated.

“I am hugely relieved and pleased. We have to build extra housing in the borough because of the Essex Structure Plan and I am delighted this can be done on previously used land rather than Greenfield sites.”

Cabinet colleague John Jowers, who sat on the town's Garrison Plan Panel for four years, said the development was probably one of the biggest building projects ever to be undertaken in East Anglia.

He added that former garrison commander Colonel Julian Lacey, who balanced the needs of the consortium, the Army and the council, deserved a large amount of credit for the success of the deal.

“It is a huge project, involving hundreds of acres and an investment of £1.4 billion. As well as more than 2,500 homes, there will be schools and health surgeries and more than £30 million worth of transport improvements in the town.

“What's more the accommodation for the soldiers - some of whom now live in barracks provided at the time of the Crimean War - will be greatly improved.”

The contract to be signed will encompass construction work on new facilities, the refurbishment of some of the better Garrison buildings - to be left behind by the Army - and the transfer of around 190 civil service jobs to the RMPA consortium.

No redundancies are expected as part of the transfer.

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