PLANS for the £270m redevelopment of Worthy Down Army base into a training college for the 21st century have reached a major milestone.

The Ministry of Defence has lodged plans for a new Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force college with Winchester City Council.

The revamp will more than double the number of personnel to 2,000 and secure its future as a military base at a time of defence cuts.

The news has been welcomed by the local MP and a city councillor but hopes for extra community facilities, including allotments and a burial ground, have been dashed.

Under the plans up to 92 new homes for service families will be built on farmland next to existing married quarters off Connaught Road.

It is proposed to bulldoze most buildings inside the camp to make way for new barracks, mess buildings, classrooms, offices and welfare facilities. Some buildings will be up to four storeys tall, although largely hidden by surrounding woodland, say military chiefs.

Under the plans students will nearly triple from 479 to 1,350 while permanent staff will increase from 250 to 650.

Proposals include a cycle route both sides of Christmas Hill between Worthy Down and the roundabout at the A34 slip road.

City councillor Stephen Godfrey, who represents South Wonston, hailed plans for the 90-hectare site as “good news in many respects.”

The retired Army major said: “Worthy Down has been slowly getting quieter and quieter. The investment of £270m will allow the MoD to bring backsomething like 1,250 jobs with Worthy Down getting back to what it was 25 years ago. It will bring a lot of vibrancy to the area.”

He said there would be further opportunities to negotiate community benefits at the detailed planning stage.

Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine warmly welcomed the “huge investment”.