PLANS to build a £270m defence college for all three services at Worthy Down Army base near Winchester have taken a major step forward.

Bids have been invited for the Ministry of Defence contract to design and build the new tri-service training college for the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

The scheme will involve new barracks, offices, classrooms, catering, retail, leisure, community and welfare facilities as well as 90 new homes for military families.

As previously reported, the proposals will more than double the number of personnel there from 750 to 2,000.

Building work is set to start next year if the city council gives the go-ahead.

Worthy Down, first used by the Royal Navy Air Service in 1917, is currently home to the Adjutant Generals Corps and training depot for members of the Staff and Personnel Support, Education and Training Services and Army Legal Service branches – which will remain.

Under the plan, Worthy Down will accommodate the headquarters and training for the Royal Logistics Corp of the Army after the closure of the controversial Deepcut barracks near Camberley in Surrey where four young recruits died amid allegations of bullying.

Logistics training from HMS Raleigh in Cornwall and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire will also move to Worthy Down.

Defence chiefs are seeking a contractor to develop Worthy Down, move the Deepcut barracks there and sell off the Surrey site for housing.

In a brochure, military chiefs say “no insurmountable constraints” to developing Worthy Down site were identified in public consultation last June when a provisional masterplan was revealed.

But issues to be considered include visual impact of expanding the camp on South Wonston, the nearest village, and impact of extra traffic on local roads.

A shortlist of companies invited to tender will be drawn up by October 29.