Aldershot Garrison was a hive of activity on Tuesday (March 14) with the arrival of eagerly-awaited new accommodation for soldiers.
A crane dominated the skyline at the garrison as modern Single Living Accommodation (SLA) blocks were carefully lowered into place.
The work fulfils a pledge made by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in November last year that more than £1.1 billion would be invested in creating new facilities to “meet the needs of the modern Armed Forces ”.
That announcement made before the House of Commons Defence Committee was an amendment to Project Allenby/Connaught (PAC), a 35-year commitment to provide high-quality living and working accommodation for 18,700 soldiers, almost 20% of the British Army.
The PAC contract, awarded to Aspire Defence in 2006, will invest £8 billion into Aldershot Garrison and garrisons on Salisbury Plain.
Among the new facilities are enough SLA blocks to house 2,600 troops as well as improved technical, office, catering, shopping and leisure facilities to make sure soldiers “work and live in the best possible environment”.
The new accommodation will be used by troops returning from Germany under the Army Basing Programme, a construction programme scheduled for completion by 2020 which will allow all British Army units based in Germany to return to the UK.
The government predicts that this will result in savings of up to £240 million per year by 2022/23.
Get Hampshire reported earlier this month that Aldershot MP Sir Gerald Howarth had credited Aldershot’s Wellesley development - to build 3,850 homes on the former garrison site - with having “transformed” the garrison .
The MP, speaking during a parliamentary debate on the government’s defence estate strategy, said money from the sale of the land for the Wellesley scheme had allowed the Ministry of Defence to order “excellent barrack facilities” to replace Aldershot’s ageing buildings.
As part of the PAC contract, one new building is delivered to the army each week on average including offices, stores, training facilities, dining centres and sports and leisure facilities.
However, at its core is 261 SLA units. In total, the project will deliver or maintain 11,500 en-suite bedspaces for single soldiers.
The Ministry of Defence has previously stressed that the SLA blocks are not a “quick fix”, as the buildings will be properly maintained throughout the life of the PAC contract.
Allan Thomson, chief executive of Aspire Defence, said: “The new single living accommodation for soldiers in Aldershot is a key milestone in our construction schedule to support the Army Basing Programme.
"It’s fantastic to see work gathering pace on site and the building taking shape. We’re very proud of our role preparing a first-rate home for troops , and in delivering the infrastructure to make soldiers’ lives better.”