Last year, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the Regular Army Basing Plan. This will see the return of some 15,000 Service personnel to the UK from Germany by 2020, concentrating the Army’s manpower in seven geographic areas.
These are Salisbury Plain; Edinburgh and Leuchars in Scotland; North East England (centred on Catterick); Aldershot; Colchester; the East Midlands (Cottesmore and North Luffenham); and Stafford.
I’m Stuart Gallacher and I’ve been at DIO for 10 years now. For the last few years, my job has been to manage the construction and renovation of facilities at Beacon Barracks, in Stafford. This key work is part of the BORONA Programme.
Pre-dating the Army Basing Plan announcement, BORONA is the name given to the MOD’s programme to close Rhine Garrison and Münster Station in Germany and return soldiers currently based there to the UK. This and other Army Basing Plan projects will make significant savings across defence.
The plan is for 16 Signal Regiment and 1 Armoured Division Signal Regiment to return to the UK next summer. Already home to 22 Signal Regiment, adding these two new regiments will see Beacon Barracks become a major centre for the Royal Signals.
As you can imagine, moving so many soldiers to one site requires a lot of work. We must make sure they have all the facilities they need to do their jobs, train, relax, live and deploy.
DIO and our contractors, Lend Lease, are delivering a £100 million redevelopment of the existing site. This includes the construction of 25 new buildings and the refurbishment of eight existing buildings. New and refurbished facilities include workshops, a combined Mess, accommodation for single soldiers, offices, garages, catering, retail and leisure facilities and a Medical and Dental Centre.
In addition to building barrack blocks for single soldiers, we have recently received planning permission for the construction of nearly 350 houses for married soldiers and their families, which will be built under a separate contract with Lovell Partnerships Ltd. The project to build these houses, scheduled for completion in late 2015, represents a further £50 million of investment. As you can see, we’re pulling out all the stops!
It’s a cliché but with so many different developments involved, there isn’t a typical day. The project is hugely interesting and full of variety, which I love - it’s exciting to be working on a project of such magnitude. I enjoy the complexities of the project and the problem solving my team and I have to undertake as we strive towards completing the project.
Working on the Beacon Barracks development has had and will continue to have a huge impact on the soldiers and their families who are using the facilities, so it’s important to get it right. Success is only achievable with close and cohesive working between all parties and the team at Beacon Barracks, which is a fully operational site. There are many people involved in the delivery of this project and I’m grateful to all of them.