I know that my hon. Friend takes a keen interest in the Ministry of Defence presence at Ashchurch in his constituency. I am pleased to be able to inform him and the House that a land sale development partnership contract was signed with Vinci St Modwen in March this year to promote the site through the planning process and ultimately to enable its redevelopment, subject to planning consent. We expect to commence transfer of the site to our development partner in phases from early 2018.
I thank the Minister for that response and for the interest he has taken in the site. He will be aware that the threat of closure has hung over employees on that site for very many years. Can the redevelopment be moved along as quickly as possible with due regard to the future of those employees?
My hon. Friend rightly takes a great interest in the site for the welfare and future prospects of the employees from his constituency there. The 160 former employees and 80 agency staff within the Defence Support Group at Ashchurch were all transferred under the TUPE process across to Babcock on completion of that transaction on 31 March, and we have continuous and regular engagement with the trade union representatives to make sure that they are all fully informed.