New military homes get warm welcome

Herald Series: Carterton councillor Phil Scott in Northwood Crescent Buy this photo » Carterton councillor Phil Scott in Northwood Crescent

HUNDREDS of new homes fit for Oxfordshire’s military heroes were unveiled last night.

Extra housing for nearly 400 people is set to be built at three bases.

Some of it replaces accommodation which Ministry of Defence (MoD) bosses have admitted is dilapidated and infested with rats.

Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, will see four accommodation blocks knocked down and replaced with three buildings housing 150 people.

The blocks were described by the firm which manages them on behalf of the MoD as in an “extremely advanced state of dilapidation, with rodent infestation, and inadequate fire safety and toilets.

Only a fraction of the accommodation is lived in and 75 service personnel who should be at Dalton Barracks have to stay in Bicester.

At RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire plans are afoot for two three--storey blocks of housing for more than 120 military personnel.

Meanwhile at RAF Brize Norton, new plans have been submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council for a 102-person accommodation block.

In 2008, military accommodation at the air station was criticised as “appalling and shameful” after pictures of raw sewage outside damp stained living quarters emerged.

Linda Shoebridge, secretary of the Wallingford branch of the Royal British Legion and the local Poppy Appeal organiser, said: “I think it’s disgusting when our servicemen and women come home from fighting abroad and have to live in second-rate accommodation.

“Some of the living space, especially for single personnel, can be pretty ropey.

“Anything that helps our forces we are all for.”

The building work is part of Project Slam, which is an MoD scheme to invest in its single living accommodation.

Over the past five years, 10,500 bed spaces have been created across the country as part of the project.

The decision to close RAF Lyneham and transfer personnel to Brize Norton last autumn has also put pressure on military homes in Carterton.

Carterton town councillor Phil Scott said: “The housing is much overdue.

“Anything the military builds is a good thing, because it means more people are coming to live here. Carterton is a town which wants to grow.

“The sooner the MoD builds more houses, the better.”

Linda Flecknell, south east area manager for the Royal British Legion, said: “We welcome the proposals to improve the housing stock at the Oxfordshire service bases.

“Provision of good quality living accommodation for both married and single personnel continues to be a top priority for all.

“It’s no secret the standard of MoD accommodation has lagged behind the expectations of its people in terms of conditions, available space and amenities.

“It’s wonderful news to see investment is beginning to correct this.”

The MoD had originally intended to build 780 homes for military families in the centre of Carterton but scaled that figure back to 200 earlier this year.

These homes will be constructed in Northwood Crescent, where previous military homes stood before they were demolished.

A spokesman for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, the arm of the MoD responsible for its property operations, said: “The planning for the 200 houses in Carterton is under way.

“They is programmed for construction of the houses to commence in early 2014.”

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