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Warning over £270m army base revamp
10:00am Monday 18th February 2013 in News
HIGHWAY chiefs have fired a warning shot to the Ministry of Defence over plans for the £270m redevelopment of Worthy Down Army base, near Winchester.
The MoD lodged plans for a new Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force college with Winchester City Council last year.
Now the county highways authority has recommended the application should be refused unless improvements are made to the travel plan as traffic in and out of the camp is expected to more than double.
The county wants more detail about proposed improvements to the hourly bus service, including a possible private shuttle to Winchester railway station, and consideration of a possible new off-road cycle route to the city.
Meanwhile South Wonston Parish Council and the city council's open spaces officer have also formally objected to the plan. Concerns include lack of community benefits, including cash to improve the recreation ground, land for allotments and a new off-road cycle route to Winchester.
Under the scheme, up to 92 new homes for service families will be built on farmland behind the existing married quarters in Connaught Road.
It is proposed to bulldoze most of the buildings inside the camp to make way for new barracks, mess building, classrooms, offices and welfare facilities.
The number of students will triple from 479 to 1,350 while permanent staff will increase from 250 to 650.
In the application, the MoD said the number of trips to and from Worthy Down is expected to increase from 191 per day to 491. However, they did not take into account the 91 new service homes.
Highway chiefs have asked for revised traffic estimates, number of proposed car parking spaces, concrete proposals to improve the bus service and investigation of an off-road cycle path between Connaught Road and Winchester to avoid traffic on 60mph Christmas Hill.
In a letter of objection to the planning department, South Wonston parish chiefs said the revamp would be “an enormous change to Worthy Down which should improve the whole area, not just the camp.”
The parish council is concerned there are no proposals to improve the recreation ground in South Wonston which is used by service families.
They also called for an off-road cycle route from South Wonston to Worthy Down and onto Andover Road plus land for allotments.
Meanwhile Stuart Dunbar Dempsey, open spaces officer for the city council, said there was already a shortfall of play space in the parish.
The council officer said he would be concerned “to see so many houses built for service families” without improved play facilities at both South Wonston and Worthy Down.
Councillors on the city council's planning committee are due to consider the application in the next two months.