Whitehill Borden vows to press ahead despite uncertainty over development site

The promoters of an eco town in Hampshire have said they will press ahead with plans despite the cancellation yesterday of the relocation of the garrison upon which it was to be built.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence announced that plans for the £14bn St Athan training facility in South Wales were being scrapped, meaning plans to vacate the Borden Garrison in Hampshire, allowing an eco town to be built, have been put in doubt. This is despite the fact the council behind the plan has already received £10m of funding from the communities department to work up the scheme, and is in line to receive a further £3m grant.

St Athan was to have consolidated training for all three forces, across a number of sites, on to the one new facility, and was to have been built by a consortium including Laing O’Rourke. The MoD said yesterday the preferred bidding consortium, Metrix, was not able to produce an affordable scheme and the project was being scrapped.

In a statement the promoter of the Whitehill Borden eco town, East Hampshire District Council, said that it had contingency plans for a smaller development if the garrison was not vacated, but called upon the MoD to remove the uncertainty surrounding the site as soon as possible.

It said: “We have been planning for the vacation of all of the garrison land in line with the Ministry of Defence’s proposals to relocate its training for all three services in South Wales.

“But because of the uncertainty surrounding the Defence Training Review we have also been planning for the release of some smaller areas of land if the proposed move to South Wales is scrapped.

“We hope that the MoD makes a firm decision soon to remove the uncertainty facing the town.

“If the MoD decides to relocate all of its training from Bordon to other sites then this will give us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regenerate the town and give the community the much-needed improvements to facilities and infrastructure it so desperately needs – as well as new jobs to compensate for the loss of MoD employment in the area.”