Hi, I’m Phil Eley, Deputy Head of the Army Basing Programme Service Family Accommodation.
The Secretary of State announced the Regular Army Basing Plan in 2013, setting out the Army’s future UK locations as it returns from Germany, rebases across the UK and restructures under Army 2020. The Army Basing Programme (ABP), a joint DIO and Army programme, was set up to put the plan into action. Here’s a fairly typical week for me.
I start the week, as always, meeting with my project team. I currently lead a team that has responsibility for delivering over 900 Service Families Accommodation (SFA) homes as part of plans to accommodate an additional 4,000 military personnel and their families on and around Salisbury Plain. These meetings are an opportunity to look back at the achievements of the previous week and provide direction and goals for the week ahead. Later in the day, I meet with my Army colleagues to provide an update on progress and highlight any issues that we need to resolve to enable the project to continue. This collaborative way of working is considered one of the mainstays in making the ABP a success.
Today I visited Bulford which is one of the three sites for the proposed development. Pre-planning application trenching has uncovered prehistoric monuments, Saxon graves and military features from the First and Second World Wars. Artefacts found in the graves included spears, knives, jewellery, bone combs and other personal items. One of the burials has been radiocarbon dated to between AD 660 and 780 which falls in the mid-Saxon period in Britain.
The head archaeologist gave me a tour around the digs and explained the significance of the finds and what they have learnt from working on this burial ground. The aim of my site visit was to monitor progress on the archaeology works as it is critical this is completed before planning permission can be permitted. This is an interesting day and shows the diversity of leading infrastructure projects within DIO.
Today is a less typical but very important day as our planning applications are to be considered by the Wiltshire County Council Strategic Planning Committee. This is the culmination of at least three years of work to develop a package of infrastructure to support the proposed developments including sustainable transport works, education and healthcare provision and sports, leisure and a community facilities access scheme. In total, the MOD is planning to invest more than £1 billion in the area.
Teams across DIO, Army and external consultants have worked collaboratively to get to this point. This is a major milestone for the project to remain on track, so all involved are holding their breath! The good news arrives from the Programme Director by text at 12.15 that the Planning Committee has unanimously granted consent subject to conditions. So a superb outcome for the MOD team which had contributed to this important milestone, but no celebratory champagne! Just a cup of tea and heads down now to address the complexities of the planning conditions.
Today I am carrying out my monthly project reviews with the team and colleagues from DIO's Commercial and Finance sections and the Army. This is an important aspect of project governance looking at the schedule, financial profiles, risks and ensuring our data is complete and accurate. This piece of work feeds into the overall ABP reporting process via the Programme Director’s monthly review. I place an emphasis on these monthly reviews as it ensures that project data is credible.
The weekend starts tonight, so I am wondering if I’ll be the person who receives the fastball e-mail late this afternoon! Today I am chairing a Gateway Review for a project being delivered by another ABP Team in which my role is as an independent. These reviews look at whether a project is ready to move onto the next stage and are an important part of the overall delivery of ABP. The Gateway Review ends and I close out e-mails received earlier today and realise I am not to be the victim of the late Friday afternoon fastball….phew! Note to self: log off quickly!