Town welcomes Army's return march

THE ARMY'S multi-million pound march back into Woodbridge is being welcomed with open arms by the town.While concerns have been raised elsewhere about the impact of the military machines on road congestion, the town is looking ahead to a promising economic boost.

THE ARMY'S multi-million pound march back into Woodbridge is being welcomed with open arms by the town.

While concerns have been raised elsewhere about the impact of the military machines on road congestion, the town is looking ahead to a promising economic boost.

The Swedish-based construction giant Skanska has been chosen to build the new £100 million Hawker barracks for the newly formed 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) at Woodbridge Airfield.

There will be accommodation, an officers' mess, firing ranges, assault courses, training and medical facilities. Sports and leisure activities will be open to public organisations.

It is hoped there will be a spin-off with civilian jobs available in a wide range of employment and that the hundreds of soldiers and their families will spend money in Woodbridge and the surrounding villages. Pubs are gearing up for a boost in trade.

The plans for the proposed 70-hectare campus on the 400-hectare site have been circulated by Suffolk Coastal District Council for consultation. There is a concern about extra traffic on the A1152 through Melton but many people are highlighting the benefits of having the Army back.

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Chris Walker, Woodbridge town council clerk, said: ''We approved it and welcomed the Ministry of Defence back to the area. We are very happy for them to come and we do not have any objections at all because it is going to bring added work, it will stimulate the economy and possibly help with education by boosting the schools. So we are very happy for them to come back.''

Eyke parish council has dealt with countless planning applications and developments at the former twin American base at Bentwaters and the parish was also asked to comment about the impact of reviving Woodbridge Airfield.

Jackie Pooley, parish clerk, said: ''The parish council supported it. I think they felt that something had to be done there. They felt it would be an improvement and bring extra jobs perhaps and an influx of people would spend money locally.''

The future of the now closed shop and post office on the site will be reviewed when the number of people living at the airfield increases.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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