MP launches petition to save Maidstone barracks

Nepalese families Image copyright Helen Grant
Image caption Families of the Queen's Gurkha Engineers have made Maidstone their home

Centuries of military tradition will be broken if proposals to close an army barracks go ahead, an MP has warned.

Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone is home to the 36 Engineer Regiment and the Queen's Gurkha Engineers.

It was earmarked for closure last year by the government, which is selling a number of Ministry of Defence sites.

Local Conservative MP Helen Grant has now launched a petition to try to save it, saying its closure would have a detrimental effect on the Kent town.

She said: "From all of the soundings I have taken so far I know that many local people are concerned about the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks, breaking centuries of military tradition in Maidstone.

"There is also great affection for the town's vibrant Nepalese community."

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Invicta Park is one of 91 sites marked for closure by 2040 with the aim of releasing land for 55,000 new homes.

The barracks would close by 2027 as part of the government's plan to "release value from surplus land" and "maximise property".

It is not known where the troops will relocate to.

Lt Col JB Awford, former commanding officer of Invicta Park, said: "I believe the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks is unsound.

"It will be a negative step for the army, for Maidstone and, no doubt, for the established Nepalese community."

Leader of the Maidstone Nepalese community, Dhan Chand, added the decision would have "a devastating impact".

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