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Princess Royal Barracks (Deepcut)

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2008

This statement is to inform the House of our intention to release the Princess Royal Barracks (PRB), Deepcut for disposal as part of ongoing work to optimise the defence training estate. The adjacent training areas and service family accommodation will be retained for use by Ministry of Defence.

The PRB Deepcut site is the principal location for Army logistics training in the Defence College of Logistics and Personnel Administration (DCLPA), and is the home of director, the Royal Logistics Corps (DRLC).

In October, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Derek Twigg), updated the House on the way forward for the defence training review (DTR). The statement announced that we were continuing to consider a range of options for package 2, which aims to provide training for logistics and personnel administration, police and guarding, security, languages, intelligence and photography. The conclusion of the part of that work related to the wider rationalisation of the estate, taking into account our focus on improving accommodation and training facilities, is that it would be in the best interests for defence to release the site for alternative civilian use and to re-provide the training facilities elsewhere. It has been judged that the site could be suitable for residential development and make a significant contribution to the Government’s housing strategy. It is, therefore, our intention to submit the Deepcut site for inclusion in Surrey Heath borough council’s core strategy.

The closure of Deepcut in the future will not lessen our commitment to maintaining the improvements already achieved to improve the care and welfare of trainees; and to continue to address the areas where performance can be improved. We will not forget the four young soldiers—Sean Benton, Cheryl James, Geoff Gray and James Collinson—who died at Deepcut. In seeking to improve the environment in which our people are trained we are continuing to meet the recommendations made by those such as the adult learning inspectorate and Nicholas Blake QC.

A key factor in informing our decisions will also be the impact on and our ability to manage sensitively the implications for our people. We continue to consult fully with trades unions and staff. While we have narrowed the range of options where future relocation may take place, this work will not be concluded until February. No moves are anticipated before 2013.

A further update will be provided later this year.