Waterbeach Barracks to close and make way for housing

Waterbeach Barracks is home to 39 Engineer Regiment and about 1,000 troops

An Army barracks in Cambridgeshire is to close to make way for housing as part of Ministry of Defence (MoD) cuts.

Waterbeach Barracks, north of Cambridge, will close by the year 2015, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has announced.

County councillor James Hockney said the closure was a shock as people were not aware it was under threat.

But Bassingbourn Barracks, an Army training base near Royston, will expand from 2016, Mr Fox said.

Speaking about Waterbeach, Mr Hockney said: "We've been taken aback by this news.

'Duty to campaign'

"The barracks has been an important part of our community since World War Two."

The councillor is to make contact with the local MP Conservative Jim Paice to begin a campaign to save it.

"Our first step is a campaign to save the barracks as the Engineer Regiment does a fantastic job for the country," he said.

"We are going, with our MP, to see the Defence Secretary Liam Fox. It's our duty to campaign.

Start Quote

We heard nothing on the grapevine that Waterbeach was under threat. Its closure came as a great shock”

End Quote Councillor James Hockney Cambridgeshire County Council

"We heard nothing on the grapevine that Waterbeach was under threat. Its closure came as a great shock."

Troops based at Waterbeach provide air support to the Royal Air Force and Army air services.

They are to be deployed to other bases when Waterbeach closes, the MoD said.

Bassingbourn is an Army training base and is expected to expand.

The MoD said steps were also being taken to accommodate Army units returning from Germany in 2015.

Mr Fox said the MoD must also continue to look to make the most efficient use of their estate and the process will continue to identify and dispose of sites that are no longer needed.

"Those sites which can be sold, especially high-value sites, will deliver much needed receipts to the defence budget," he said.

"We plan to vacate and dispose of Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire which, subject to the necessary planning consents, will support the government's broader aim of increasing the supply of new housing.

"The units currently based at these sites will, as appropriate, be accommodated at other locations."

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