Army's New Facilities At Salisbury Plain An 'All-Round Package'

Forces News has been finding out how new communities are starting to be forged as the Army Basing Programme draws to a close.

The new British Army facilities on Salisbury Plain have been described as an "all-round package" aimed at benefiting both military personnel and local communities.

Forces News has been given access to some of the new buildings across the Wiltshire training area as the Army Basing Programme comes to a conclusion after seven years.

Garrisons across the area have seen a huge investment as thousands of troops and their families have returned from Germany or relocated from other parts of the UK.

In order to accommodate the thousands relocating, numerous bases have seen investment.

Among those to have seen a total transformation are Tidworth, Larkhill and Bulford, with the integration of the civilian and military communities at the heart of the decision-making.

Allan Thomson, chief executive of Aspire Defence, the organisation behind the delivery of new and improved accommodation, said the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and the Army had worked with local communities and councils to create an "all-round package", as opposed to just "plonking stuff inside the wire for the soldiers".

"It is, I think, a total facilities package… that I think everyone’s going to benefit from, not just the Army but also the local community," he said.

Some newly-built facilities, such as an early years day centre in Tidworth, are open to both civilian and military communities.

Some places, such as a new super diner in Larkhill, remain a military-only facility, but many other elements, such as roads and schools, have been improved with the whole community in mind.

The new medical centre in Larkhill will be open to the civilian community and there is to be ongoing dialogue between Wiltshire Council and its military residents.

Additionally, a new early daycare centre in Tidworth will be open to the whole community, while St Michael's Primary School, on the edge of Larkhill, caters for both military and civilian children.

Guy Benson, Wiltshire Council's Military Civil Integration lead, said the military has brought an "awful lot" to the county.

"The military are big in Wiltshire," he said.

"I think a previous leader has said the military actually are the beating heart of Wiltshire county and I would tend to agree."

British troops began leaving Germany in 2013, with the last field units leaving for the UK last summer.

£1.8bn has been invested in the entire rebasing programme which has seen 1,475 newly built family houses.