DEFENCE chiefs have unveiled £270m plans to turn a Hampshire Army base into a training centre for all three services.
A major new college for the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will be built at Worthy Down near Winchester which will more than double the number of personnel there from 750 to 2,000.
The scheme includes 92 new homes for military families on farmland next to the existing service housing.
Building work is set to start in 2013 if the city council gives the go-ahead. The Ministry of Defence has already approved the plans.
The proposal has been welcomed by the business community and the local MP.
Chris Turner, chief executive of Winchester Business Improvement District, welcomed the expansion plans – and the boost to local traders.
He said: “We are very pleased the MoD has seen Winchester as a place to invest and local businesses will respond as best we can.
“We are already involved in Armed Forces Week, offering discounts to service personnel.”
Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Tory MP Steve Brine said it secured the long-term future of Worthy Down as part of
Winchester’s military heritage and was also an opportunity to improve local facilities.
He said: “Residents will know that I have been working with the parish council and MoD for some time to strike a deal on new land being made available for a burial ground, additional football pitch
and new cycle route from South Wonston to Winchester and I would expect to see significant progress on all these fronts as the project moves forward.”
The new college would provide training in personnel administration and logistics, including catering.
The base, which was first used for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, is currently home to the Adjutant General Corps, which will remain on the site.
Under the plan, Worthy Down will accommodate the headquarters and training for the Royal Logistics Corps after the closure of the controversial Deepcut barracks near Camberley in Surrey, where four
young recruits died amid allegations of bullying.
Logistics training for the Navy at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall and the RAF at Halton in Buckinghamshire will also move to Worthy Down.
The proposals are part of a defence review which aims to reduce the number of sites occupied by the MoD.
Deputy garrison commander Lieutenant-Colonel Amanda Hassell said the redevelopment guaranteed the future of Worthy Down as a military base for at least 25 years.
She added: “I very much welcome this because it is an opportunity to provide 21st century training and living accommodation for our service people.”
Some nearby residents questioned the need to build new homes when 50 of the existing service houses were empty while others were concerned about pressure on local schools and GP surgery.
However there are spare places at both South Wonston Primary School and The Henry Beaufort School.
Lt-Col Hassell said the empty houses were partly due to redundancies and extra homes would only be built if needed.
The scheme includes a new public reception area with a museum, single living quarters, mess areas, classrooms, welfare hub and gym.
The Defence Infrastucture Organisation plans to submit a planning application to the city council this summer.