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Shapps announces Bath MOD Sites to Go

by Cherry Beath on 20 June, 2011

Cherry and Roger outside Foxhill MOD last week

Minister for Housing, Grant Shapps announced in early June that all three Bath MOD Sites would be disposed of for development over the next few years. This was despite the fact that MP Don Foster and North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg secured a commitment from Defence minister Andrew Robathan that they, council leaders and union officials could have until the end of June to make the economic case for saving at least one of the Bath sites.

1,200 staff from Bath are already in the process of being transferred, but another 1,400 are scheduled to follow in the next two years. Campaigners have disputed the financial figures being used to justify the move, and also raised concerns over staff recruitment and retention.

They also argue that no serious study has been made into the impact of the move, both in terms of the added pressures on the already over-stretched transport links and the damage to the Bath economy.

The three political group leaders on Bath and North East Somerset Council have already written to the MoD to raise their concerns, urging the Government to “pause” and re-evaluate the case for shutting the site.

A statement earlier this month from the Department for Communities said: “The rationalisation of office accommodation owned by the Ministry of Defence will free up three sites at Foxhill, Warminster Road and Ensleigh, which will be brought forward for disposal over the next few years.

“Subject to planning, the 36-hectare sites have the potential for over 1,200 new homes. Bath and North East Somerset’s core strategy is going to enquiry in public in September and it is anticipated that the inspector’s report due in spring 2012 will confirm the allocations for development.”

The closure of all the sites would end the MoD’s 72-year association with Bath, having had offices in the city since the start of the Second World War when the old Admiralty was moved out of London.

Don Foster has argued that not all of the Ensleigh site can be disposed of because computer systems cannot be moved.

Roger and I will be closely monitoring the future for these sites, and especially for the substantial Foxhill Site, and plans there.

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