‘It’s marvellous on so many levels’ – Villagers react to government plans to reopen Bassingbourn Barracks as a military site from 2019

Bassingbourn Barracks is set to reopen as a military site from 2019.

Bassingbourn Barracks is set to reopen as a military site from 2019. - Credit: Archant

Villagers have told the Crow they are relieved that Bassingbourn Barracks is set to reopen as a military site in 2019 after the government announced the move as part of a shake-up of Ministry of Defence facilities.

The extensive plans will see many MoD and military personnel return to the vacant barracks.

The plan is part of the Better Defence Estate strategy which aims to ‘support military capability by providing a smaller but better estate for the armed forces and their families to 2040 and beyond’.

The strategy – which is backed by a funding boost of more than £4 billion, as announced by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon – means some sites around the country are closing, but Bassingbourn will once again house military personnel.

“By putting money where it is needed, we will provide better facilities to train our armed forces and deliver more stability for military families,” said Mr Fallon.

The Band of the Queen’s Division, currently at RAF Henlow, and the Operational Training & Advisory Group, based at Burgoyne Barracks in Folkestone, are to be moved to Bassingbourn in 2019.

The musical unit of the Queen’s Division, of which the Royal Anglian Regiment is a part, will also be based at the barracks from 2020, as will Ministry of Defence Police and Ministry of Defence Guard Service.

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The site was closed in 2013 when troops was withdrawn. In 2014 Libyan servicemen arrived there for a training stint but were sent home after five of them were jailed for sex attacks in Cambridge.

Les Ames, of Guise Lane, said: “It’s marvellous on so many levels. The jobs open to civilians in itself is a great bonus. It also gives the MoD a chance to put the Libyan debacle behind them and to start to rebuild a relationship with the locals.

“The barracks reopening gives me personally a lot of comfort.

“Knowing that there are troops here in Bassingbourn with an airstrip that could take them to London, the Midlands and East Anglia very quickly is hugely comforting.”

Patricia Moore, also of Guise Lane, said: “We think it’s wonderful and such a relief.

“We’ve missed the army presence so much since they left – it used to be great watching the new recruits pass by our door when they were being trained.

“Also there will be jobs for locals and much more of a buzz to the place.”

Brian Baldwin, of Kneesworth, said: “I am happy about the news regarding the barracks as I assume that the community will be renewed.”

He added: “It also ends a lot of worry and concern about the land being used for a major housing development that would have had far reaching and detrimental effects on the village.

“There will be problems to address of course, but it would seem that there is time to make arrangements and plan for the influx of the military personnel and their families on a staged basis.”

District councillor Nigel Cathcart added: “I’m pleased with the outcome.

“Many of us in Bassingbourn have longed for this decision.

“It’s good for the military, because the facilities are second to none, It’s good for the

village, as it removes uncertainty around the barracks’ future, and will provide employment.”

He also said the decision could potentially prompt a rethink surrounding the ski slope entrance being moved to Guise Lane.