Revised plan for former army site is revealed
A massive once in half a century scheme to build up to 2,700 new houses at the army’s historic St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham has taken a big step forward.
The groundbreaking blueprint is set to dramatically transform the giant former Cold War missile base as county council chiefs led by leader Coun Oliver Hemsley vowed: “We’ll do all we can to protect beautiful Rutland”.
They spoke out as parish council leaders praised the county for slashing the maximum number of proposed properties on the vast brownfield site by 800 - but insisted the stunning 10-15-year project was still “far too big”.
St George’s Barracks is effectively to be turned into a new village as the army shuts it down and pulls out 2 Medical Regt, Royal Army Medical Corps, and 1 Military Working Dogs Regt, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, by 2021.
Coun Oliver Hemsley, leader of Rutland County Council, said: “This is probably the most exciting challenge we’ve had here since Rutland Water was created 50 years ago.
“Some people opposed Rutland Water but it’s now the jewel in our crown and generates about £113m a year in tourism!
“There’s still a lot of work to be done on redeveloping St George’s Barracks but we are getting there and we will be fighting for Rutland all the way.”
He said the council, which is working side by side with site owners the Ministry of Defence (MoD), was also liaising closely with parish councils and residents as they put together the Masterplan.
“We’ve received a total of 624 official responses as part of our consultation.
“Local feedback is crucial to us because Rutland is a small county and it belongs to the people who live here,” said Coun Hemsley.
“And as a result we’ve made more than 40 recommendations to change the evolving Masterplan for St George’s Barracks.”
The radically-updated scheme to turn the sprawling 700-acre plus military station includes:
l Cutting the suggested number of homes to be built from the initial range of 1,500-3,500 to between 1,500-2,700 - giving each property more space
l Increasing the size of buffer zones and green space around the development, the land pinpointed for mineral extraction and surrounding villages of Edith Weston and North Luffenham
l Carrying out more in-depth transport assessments to boost infrastructure, roads and junctions
l Detailing the types of jobs to be encouraged on the site’s 35-acre business zone
l Giving more detailed information about proposed health, well-being and education facilities - including a new GP surgery and primary school
l Supporting Rutland’s tourism, with improved parking for Rutland Water, creating a Thor Missile museum and potentially setting up a hotel, lodges and camping
l Protecting against future development around Edith Weston and North Luffenham.
“St George’s Barracks has served the country, in one form or other, for more than 80 years.
“So when the base closes in 2020/21 it’s vital that the the site continues to serve Rutland’s needs,” said Coun Hemsley.
“That’s why we are working with the MoD to develop a plan for the future of St George’s and why the feedback of residents is so important.
“Together with the MoD, we have listened to people’s views and concerns and used this feedback to make significant changes to the initial draft proposals.”
The Conservative councillor said the first house could be built in 2022.
“We expect it will take 10-15 years to build all the homes.
“It’s a huge site and a lot of it is not used at the moment,” said Coun Hemsley.
“It’s there to be developed for the good of the area and the whole county.
“This gives us a great chance to provide housing for all.
“Rutland has an ageing demographic.
“Bringing in dynamic young families and children - our citizens of the future - will help to re-energise our county.”
The newly-revised Masterplan will be put before a full meeting of the county council for reaction on November 26.
Up to 3,000 new jobs are poised to be created by the army base blueprint.
Rutland County Council is setting out to generate at least one job per house, said leader Oliver Hemsley.
Coun Hemsley said: “We want to create about 3,000 jobs. They will boost the local economy and help to fill the gap left by the army pulling out. Companies want to be able to recruit employees locally. And people want to live in Rutland rather than having to commute in every day from well outside the area,” said Coun Hemsley.
The authority is targeting a total of up to 2,700 homes and hopes a range of properties will attract younger people to the county.
CounHemsley said: “We have an ageing demographic and we want to bring younger people with families and children into Rutland.
“It’s important we persuade them to move here - and then focus on retaining them here. We are also keen to build affordable properties - everything from shared ownership to social housing.”
He said they were working alongside organisations such as Heritage England to ensure the massive redevelopment is sustainable and blends in with rolling local countryside.
“We’ll also make sure that we get the infrastructure such as roads and essential services in place first before the houses are built.
“We are determined to get this the right way round,” said Coun Hemsley.
“Building new accommodation at St George’s will mean that we won’t have to put up new houses in Uppingham, Oakham and the villages,” said Coun Hemsley.