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Final Update: April 1 2016.


In Memory of the


Arborfield Military Garrison.


1904 to 2015.


One hundred and eleven years of meritorious service to Crowns and Country.


No more will the plaintiff sounds drift across open spaces of the


Last Post.


This time, the following silence will remain unbroken by the sounding of Reveille.



The Ghosts.

The leafy lanes of Berkshire will not be quite the same,
Those martial sounds – once, all around – will not be heard again,
Familiar beating drums and fleeting thoughts of what had been,
Will fade and fall into recall for some that shared that dream.

A Dream? Yes, it will seem so in the years that are to be,
A ghostly dream so far removed from the reality
Of rows of houses, shops, and all those common, mundane things,
In everyday existence that normality always brings.

And only in the minds of those who occupied this place,
Will this dream be reality from past times, though a trace
Of some remembrance should exist to mark that which had been
So meaningful to this locality in years between.

A school of thought exists that in the fabric of a place,
There is a latent memory that can never be erased
Of all that happened in the years now gone from long-ago,
Ghosts of the past who haunt the leafy lanes we used to know.

The echo of a thousand bugle calls ring down the ages,
Sounds of hoof-beats pounding through countless history’s pages,
Young men arriving from the farthest corners of the earth,
Serving, learning how to fight for things, they thought, of worth.

And boys, in the first flush of youth, starting down life’s road,
Embarking on life changing paths, secure in the accord
Bestowed by wise and learned men, skilled in the many arts
Of burgeoning technology, to help them play their part.

This place of knowledge, discipline, of skill and dedication
Has served this Nation constantly, and helped in its salvation
From threats, providing fighting men, skilled artisans that fought,
Some dying for the freedom, so clearly, dearly bought.

And maybe, in the coming years, when all who knew are gone,
The ones who occupy this place may hear a distant song,
Or maybe, on a summer’s evening walk, may stop and pause,
And hear the sound of martial music, wondering at the cause.

And there again, faintly, commands may fill the evening air,
Or distant bugles at sunset to tell all to prepare
For the long sleep in prospect for this very special land,
Which served and satisfied its destiny from when first planned.

Copyright © Tony ‘TeeCee’ Church (55A, Arborfield A.A.S.)



For the ‘Whitehall Desk Warriors & Number Crunchers’ we depart with a final


Soldier’s Farewell.



Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

1st April 2016.



Update: September 15 2015.

Article dated 13 September 2015.


Methinks perhaps the Army should have protested too.



To read the full story: CLICK on Western Daily Press above.

Blow for Lyneham as Navy and RAF pull out of military training centre plan

By TristanCork  |  Posted: September 13, 2015

Defence chiefs have announced that plans to create Britain's first tri-service military training centre at the former RAF Lyneham base in north Wiltshire have been abandoned – because the Royal Navy and the RAF won’t go there.

Copyright © 2015 Local World. All Rights Reserved.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th September 2015.



Get Reading


Arborfield Secondary School and Housing.


Update: April 15 2015

Articles dated 26 and 27 March 2015.


Demob Day’ for the Arborfield Garrison edges ever closer with plans receiving local council approval for’…


the Arborfield Secondary School’,


2,000 New Homes.


Preferred ‘Development Manager’ confirmed by the ‘Defence Infrastructure Organization’.



Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th April 2015.



Get Reading


Arborfield Secondary School.


Update: March 15 2015

Article dated 26 November 2014.


News of the new secondary school to be located on Rowcroft Barracks land.  New School Details.


For the benefit of our Senior Old Soldiers, if your memory of what went where at Arborfield is a trifle hazy, then the new school can be located on the following photos.  Take note of the two existing buildings, positioned top left, the Library and Gymnasium which will be retained.


New school arborfield 2 wo


The buildings are visible in the centre on the photo below.  Copyright © Google Earth.


New school arborfield 3 wo

Left of centre, the light vertical oblong is, or was, the parade ground.  Adjacent on the right were the accommodation spiders and the dark grey oblong further to the right was the location of the education classrooms and the technical training workshops, demolished long ago.  There is some compensation in the fact that the land where we underwent our training is being recycled to train the youth of today.

If you are really overcome by the mists of time, then the photo below will explain all.


Arborfield then wo


For more photographs to revive memories of our Arborfield School  Click 



Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th March 2015.




Update from R.E.M.E. re. Defence College of Technical Training.


Update: March 1 2015



Notes as published via the Wiltshire Local Government site.  (pdf file.)


Article dated 26 November 2014.


Report to the Royal Wooton Basset worthies on the impending move in the Swindon Advertiser’.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

1st March 2015.




Get Reading


Plans submitted for 1,500 home development at Arborfield Garrison



Update: November 1 2014


Further revelations for the redevelopment of the Arborfield Garrison have been published and the link to Wokingham Council Planning Department is available in the ‘Get Reading’ local paper…….


Housing plans for Arborfield.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

1st November 2014.





MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times


Former Arborfield Garrison mess top site for new free School



Update: January 15 2014.

Those who availed themselves of the facilities at ‘West Court Officers Mess’ at some period of their service career may be interested in the future plans for the establishment.

Proposed Free School


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th January 2014.




MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times



Developers told to go back to the drawing board over Arborfield Garrison plans.


Update: September 15 2013.

Take one pace backwards and read the latest news on the Arborfield Garrison Redevelopment plans.  It would appear it ‘ain’t over till the overweight female breaks into song’.


Arborfield Plans (revised).


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th September 2013.




Arborfield Garrison Redevelopment Planning Application.


Update: June 15 2013.

If you have a week or so to spare, you may like to read all the ‘nitty gritty’ of the Wokingham Borough Council Planning Department which is handling the proposed redevelopment of the Arborfield Garrison, which includes the home of our Army Apprentices School stamping ground.


Access the entry page from the ‘Arborfield Plans’ link below.


On the page that opens, select ‘A Parish’ as Arborfield.

Set ‘Select a Type’ as Applications.

In the ‘Application Number’ insert O/2013/0600 (First letter is uppercase as in Oh!)

Click on Search

Then click on ‘See the plans and documents’ link and off you go into a world of bureaucratic bumbledom beloved by those who know what’s best for us. On the plus side are the maps and photos which will remind us of the layout of the area before it disappears under concrete.


Arborfield Plans.



Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th June 2013.




MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times


Arborfield mini-town ‘rushed through’


December 17, 2012

Developers have been accused of ‘rushing through’ plans for a mini-town at Arborfield Garrison after telling villagers they would submit a planning application in March.

The announcement at a community forum meeting on Wednesday, November 28 provoked an angry reaction from members of Arborfield Garrison Residents’ Action Group (AG-RAG) who labelled the developers ‘arrogant’ and ‘driven by greed’.

Gill Purchase, group spokeswoman, said vital decisions about the construction of a bypass would not be settled by that date.

She said: “It proves once again the proposed mini-town is being driven by developer’s greed with no concern over its long-term impact on the environment or the views of residents who have to live with the consequences.

“It beggars belief what the development will be like with this ramshackle approach – we can only imagine what legacy the hurried and thoughtless destruction of hundreds of acres of green fields will have on future generations.”

Plans to build 3,500 houses, schools and a supermarket on brownfield land at the garrison and on surrounding greenfield sites form one of four Wokingham Borough Council Strategic Development Locations (SDL).

Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for highways and planning, said: “Nothing will be pushed through to satisfy a developers’ need. There is due process. Any developer can put any timetable they like but if it does not fit in, if the work has not been done, if you still have issues, it is irrelevant.

“We will not bow to pressure if we do not believe the application is suitable and if it does not address all the needs of schools, sports centres, community centre and open spaces.”



To catch up on ‘A Vision For Arborfield Garrison’   Click


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A.

15th January 2013.








Concerns eased over Army influx


Alex Gore • Published 25 Nov 2011


EDUCATION chiefs have dismissed fears that the school system will be unable to cope with an imminent influx of service families.


The Chronicle can reveal that 24 families will be moved into married quarters near Arborfield Garrison, with 19 due to arrive next month and the remainder expected to follow in the New Year.


The troops from 43 Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps, are arriving as part of the British Army's withdrawal from Germany but there are not enough married quarters at their new base at Abingdon's Dalton Barracks.


However, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the move would not affect the scheduled closure of Arborfield Garrison by 2015.


 Wokingham Borough Council cannot confirm the number of children it will need to fit into its already squeezed system but it is anticipated around 20 youngsters will arrive next month. Council education leader Cllr Rob Stanton said: "It will not put as much pressure on us as I might have feared when I was first told about this. The good fortune is the children are all different ages and are very well spread across the piece, which actually makes it do-able. "We are not putting 20-odd children in one school."


Married soldiers will travel daily by bus from Arborfield to Dalton Barracks to work, while single servicemen and women are being housed in Bicester.


MoD spokesman Tony Moran said: "This distribution of personnel makes the most sensible use of existing services accommodation in the area."


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A

1st December 2011






Garrison closure confirmed by Fox

Published 23 Jul 2011 17:00

Jump to first paragraph.


DEFENCE Secretary Liam Fox confirmed this week that Arborfield garrison will close by 2015.

The announcement followed The Chronicle's exclusive report in April when Dr Fox revealed the decision in a letter to Wokingham MP John Redwood, making way for a major new housing development on the land.

The closure decision came less than a year after the Ministry of Defence said it was reversing its 2007 plans to close the garrison. Members of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and other troops stationed there will now be switched to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Wokingham borough highways and planning leader Cllr Angus Ross said: "The army has been part of Arborfield for almost a century and it is an association we are proud of. However, the announcement comes at an opportune time as we are preparing to consider the new masterplans in the next few months.

"It enables us to positively plan this development with more certainty - not only providing more housing but also a secondary school and primary schools for the south of the borough, along with other commercial and community developments."

The garrison was identified in the council's adopted core strategy as part of one of four Strategic Development Locations (SDLs), along with land South of the M4, North Wokingham and South Wokingham, which have been earmarked for 10,000 new homes by 2026.

But Borough Cllr Gary Cowan, who represents the Arborfield ward, said: "I think it is a disappointment that the army are going because they are such a part of the community. What is important is that the development and infrastructure are put in place sensibly, so we do not end up with a terrible shambles. We could have 11 years of development and I do not want to see a building site.

"We now know more than we did, but there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this."

A consultation on the SDL proposals will close on Wednesday [27] and comments can be emailed to: or posted to: Cris Lancaster, Masterplanner, Wokingham Borough Council, Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 1WL.

Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A

1st August 2011






MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times$plit/C_67_article_2091491_body_articleblock_0_bodyimage.jpg?20%2F04%2F2011%2008%3A44%3A07%3A259

John Redwood MP


Residents and John Redwood MP unconvinced by garrison pledge

Published April 20, 2011


Government reassurances that Arborfield Garrison will be released for housing development in 2015 have failed to convince residents and Wokingham’s MP.

John Redwood described a letter from Dr Liam Fox, secretary of state for defence, to the Wokingham MP as a step in the right direction, but not a clear cut sign the Garrison will be released for a 3,500 home mini-town.

With developers gearing up to submit formal blueprints for the new housing, Arborfield residents are concerned Wokingham Borough Council will give permission to building before the Army has left.

Around 1,500 homes in the mini-town are earmarked for land outside the Garrison boundaries.

Residents fear the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could perform a U-turn and not release the Garrison when development has already started outside the base.

Martin Rutter, chairman of Arborfield Garrison Residents Action Group (AG-RAG), explained this could mean the schools and new roads needed for the housing would not be built.

He said: “The letter doesn’t take us any further forward.

“It’s not the definitive answer and we call on Wokingham Borough Council not to issue any planning permission until the MoD has left the site.”

Mr. Redwood has been urging the Government to provide an answer on if and when Arborfield Garrison will be vacated by the Army for development.

He received the letter from Dr Fox last week, which said the Government plans to dispose of the Garrison by 2015, however does not rule out a change in timetable.

Mr. Redwood said: “I have been desperately trying to get certainty out of these people. Now it is more certain, but still not completely certain.

“Liam Fox is still saying there is going to be a statement in the summer.”

Mr. Redwood has also been calling for clarity over where funds for the new school at the Garrison will come from.

The council plans to relocate The Emmbrook School to the Garrison to cater for children in the south of the borough.

Mr. Redwood had concerns the cash needed for the move, estimated at £38 million, would not be available.

In his letter, Dr Fox said: “I am told that the council expects funding to be shared between the council and the [housing developments] at Arborfield Garrison and south of the M4.

“Whilst the exact appointment of the required funding has yet to be agreed by all parties, the council is clearly expecting the MoD to contribute to the new build capital costs via the Section 106 agreement.”

Plans for Arborfield Garrison are part of a strategy for where more than 12,500 homes will be built by 2026.

The council’s proposals for developers to build on Arborfield Garrison and three other sites around the borough have hit a stumbling block after parish and town councils lodged a High Court legal challenge against plans.

The legal process has slowed down progress on the four mini-towns, however residents cannot fight the principle of development in the borough.

Councillor Angus Ross, executive member for local and regional planning, said: “We still need that final letter once the MoD has got its recommendation and the secretary of state has finally determined the dates for vacating the Garrison.

“We have not received any planning applications yet.

“The council has consistently said and it was agreed in the Core Strategy we needed an infrastructure delivery plan for the whole of the area so until we get that from the developers we can’t go forwards. “We need the 3,500 homes and the investment from that to make the development sustainable. “That is comfort to the council and local residents.”

A further announcement from the MoD is expected in the summer.

Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A

1st May 2011






Army garrison to close by 2015

Published 17 Apr 2011 16:00

Defence minister Liam Fox says REME training base will close by 2015


ARBORFIELD Garrison will close by 2015 with some of its buildings and a cash windfall from the Ministry of Defence being used for a new school.

The planned closure was confirmed yesterday in a letter to Wokingham MP John Redwood from Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who said the entire site will be sold as part of a shake up of MoD training provision.

The announcement comes six months after the MoD said it was scrapping the Arborfield closure and reversing its 2007 plans to move the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers training base to a new all-in-one establishment in Wales.

Dr Fox said: "Arborfield Garrison is programmed for release as a result of the Defence Technical Training Change Programme (DTTCP)...It is planned that the entire Garrison site will be made available for disposal by 2015.

"In the interim, the Ministry of Defence will continue its training operations to the point the site is vacated. Work being undertaken by the DTTCP project team is ongoing and currently running to programme. Therefore the Department sees no reason why the proposed time scales should change."

Dr Fox promises an official announcement in the summer but said negotiations about the future of the site, earmarked for 3,500 homes by Wokingham Borough Council, will continue.

He said the MoD could contribute financially to infrastructure projects and give 10.5 hectares, along with the education block and gym, and an all-weather sports pitch for a badly needed secondary school. The council can also expect a windfall when housing developers get planning permission.

Mr Redwood said last night: "It is still early days, they need to clear up some uncertainties as far as possible for the garrison and community. If they do as they say and make contributions to the community it is good news.

"The response was a bit firmer than I expected but it is still not clear and I will keep pressing for more."

Secretary of Arborfield Old Boys Association, Fred Mills, 75, who started as an apprentice at the garrison in 1939, said: "It really is such a terrible shame. It's been there for so many years and I have a lot of memories there. To hear it's going to be gone by 2015 is devastating."

Another former apprentice, REME Museum volunteer Keith Evans, 81, from Arborfield Cross, added: "I'm very dismayed as it's like a second home to me."

Arborfield councillor Gary Cowan, said the base is a logical place for new homes but said he is sceptical the MoD will move out, having gone back on its plans once before.

Wokingham Borough Council's director of strategy, Heather Thwaites, said: "We are in the process of developing a master plan for the area. As far as we are aware, the date is still yet to be confirmed, but when it is, that will obviously be good news as the master plan can move forward."

Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A

1st May 2011




MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times


Published 26 January 2011

Image4 wo

© First printed in: The Wokingham Times 26 January 2011

Contributed by: James ROBINSON.

1st February 2011.




The saga rumbles on but now there is meat on the bone. The detailed proposals have now been committed  to print for public consultation and views to be submitted. All is revealed from the following link. Time is of the essence, Friday January 14th 2011 is the closing date for submission, so make your thoughts known via the Public Consultation Board pdf. and the Online Feedback  Form……


Proposed Arborfield Garrison Redevelopment


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A

11th December 2010








Published: Monday, 15th November, 2010 1:30pm

Garrison despair for campaigners over MoD decision


by Adam Hewitt

Flag raising at Arborfield Garrison


THE Ministry of Defence has confirmed it is to close the Arborfield army base but campaigners are accusing councillors of “jumping the gun” by pressing ahead with plans to replace it with a mini-town.

Arborfield Garrison Residents’ Action Group (Ag-Rag) claimed the housing scheme was “dead in the water” last month after the Government cancelled a multi-million pound defence training base in South Wales, where the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) was expected to move.

But even without public confirmation on REME’s new home, the MoD has told Wokingham Borough Council the base will close by 2015.

Mark Cupit, WBC’s head of development management, told the Chronicle this week: “We have received written assurance from the Deputy Chief Executive of Defence Estates that the whole site will be vacated by 2015 and that the MoD in conjunction with adjoining landowners has already instructed the preparation of an outline planning application for submission to WBC in early 2011.”

Ag-Rag chairman Martin Rutter said: “We’re angry, there was a unanimous decision that it should be deferred. Where on Earth are the MoD going to move those people, and where are they getting the money from? WBC are jumping the gun.

“The Secretary of State has said it will be Spring 2011 before he decides. WBC now seem to be accepting the word of the MoD that the base will close in 2015 despite more than 20 years of broken promises from them.”

Cllr Angus Ross, executive member for planning, said the masterplan for the Garrison redevelopment into a mini-town of 3,500 homes with new roads, schools and facilities would be voted on by the executive on January 27 next year.

He said: “We welcome the MoD’s news and the continued commitment of the other landowners as it secures the last of the major sites for our development plans to 2026, already adopted by the council. It enables more specific planning to be carried out not only for the housing, but also a secondary school for the south of the borough and many other commercial and community developments.”

Despite the Government scrapping of regional housing targets, WBC is pressing ahead with plans for four mini-towns around the borough by 2026, including another equally controversial proposal south of the M4 between Shinfield and Spencers Wood.

Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A





Defence Management


£14bn defence college plan scrapped

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Plans for a £14bn Defence Training College in St Athan in Wales have been scrapped, the Defence Secretary has confirmed.


In a statement published ahead of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, Liam Fox said that the Defence Training Rationalisation project (DTR), which was to provide technical and engineering training for all three forces on one site, had been terminated.


The MoD is now looking at other ways to deliver training, and still favours the St Athan site.


In a written ministerial statement to Parliament today, Fox said that the industrial consortium chosen as preferred bidder for the project could not provide an "affordable, commercially robust" solution for the Ministry of Defence's requirements.


"The Metrix Consortium was appointed as preferred bidder in January 2007 subject to it developing an affordable and value for money contract proposal," said Fox.


"Given the significance of this project and the opportunity to provide a world-class training facility, the Ministry of Defence has worked tirelessly to deliver this project.


"However, it is now clear that Metrix cannot deliver an affordable, commercially-robust proposal within the prescribed period and it has therefore been necessary to terminate the DTR procurement and Metrix's appointment as preferred bidder."


Fox said that the MoD was committed to developing technical and engineering training, and that St Athan was the most likely site for this.


"Technical training, collocated on as few sites as possible, remains in our view the best solution for our Armed Forces," he said. 'Equally, St Athan was previously chosen as the best location on which to collocate that training for good reasons, and we still hope to base our future defence training solution there.


"We will however now carry out some work before finalising the best way ahead; including to confirm both our training and estates requirement, and the best way to structure the solution that will meet them.


"To ensure momentum is not lost, work on the alternative options will begin as soon as possible and we hope to be able to announce our future plans in the spring."


Since the appointment of Metrix as preferred bidder in 2007, Qinetiq, the joint lead company in the consortium with Sodexo, says it has incurred costs of £37m.


Chief executive Leo Quinn, said: "We are disappointed by today's news, but believe that the principles behind the programme remain unchanged. We look forward to discussing alternative solutions with the MoD for providing consistent high quality training across the Forces in a way which delivers value for money within the current budgetary constraints."


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A




MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times

Arborfield Garrison's future is homes despite REME staying

By Victoria Corbett

October 19, 2010


The Ministry of Defence has scrapped plans to vacate Arborfield Garrison for now, but celebrations from anti-development campaigners could be short-lived.


The Garrison is earmarked to take 3,500 homes by 2026, as well as be a new home for The Emmbrook School in Emmbrook Road, which suffers from frequent flooding.


However, defence secretary Dr Liam Fox announced today plans for a new £14 billion defence academy at St Athan in Wales have been scrapped.


Although campaigners initially hoped this would mean the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Corp will stay in Arborfield, getwokingham has learned the MOD still plans to dispose of the site for housing.


Wokingham Borough Council had been told in the past the Garrison would be vacated by around 2015 for development.


Housing target decision delay


The plans to build on and around the Garrison have sparked anger among local residents, who formed the Arborfield Garrison Residents' Action Group (AG-RAG).


The group had accepted development on the site in principle, however was concerned about the loss of green space.


A statement from the Ministry of Defence said: “Training will continue to be delivered at current training locations as it would have done under the original PFI (Private Finance Initiative) proposal.


“These sites are: Arborfield, Blandford, Bordon, Cosford, Cranwell, Digby, Fareham (Collingwood), Gosport (Sultan) and St Athan.”


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A





Published: Tuesday, 19th October, 2010 2:30pm

Government scraps Arborfield Garrison move

 by Adam Hewitt


THE MINISTRY of Defence today scrapped the closure of Arborfield Garrison and said training will stay at the base.

Training was due to be centralised in St Athan in South Wales as part of a multi-billion pound move, which would have seen the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) vacate the Arborfield base.

The Metrix Consortium was appointed as preferred bidder, but in a written ministerial statement to Parliament today, defence secretary Liam Fox said: "It is now clear that Metrix cannot deliver an affordable, commercially-robust proposal within the prescribed period and it has therefore been necessary to terminate the Defence Training Review procurement and Metrix's appointment as preferred bidder.

"Technical training, collocated on as few sites as possible, remains in our view the best solution for our Armed Forces. Equally, St Athan was previously chosen as the best location on which to collocate that training for good reasons, and we still hope to base our future defence training solution there.

"We will however now carry out some work before finalising the best way ahead; including to confirm both our training and estates requirement, and the best way to structure the solution that will meet them.

"To ensure momentum is not lost, work on the alternative options will begin as soon as possible and we hope to be able to announce our future plans in the spring."

The MoD said: "Training will continue to be delivered at current training locations as it would have done under the original PFI (Private Finance Initiative) proposal. These sites are: Arborfield, Blandford, Bordon, Cosford, Cranwell, Digby, Fareham (Collingwood), Gosport (Sultan) and St Athan."

The Garrison and surrounding land is earmarked in Wokingham Borough Council's core strategy as a strategic development location suitable for 3,500 homes.

Community group Arborfield Garrison Residents' Action Group has been fighting the plans where it involved development on green fields outside the base itself.

Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A




MP calling for two new housing targets - News - getwokingham - The Wokingham Times


MP calling for two new housing targets

July 02, 2010

Uncertainty surrounds the future of Wokingham’s blueprint for future development after it was revealed there is still a question mark over Arborfield Garrison being released for housing.

Meanwhile, Wokingham MP John Redwood urged Wokingham Borough Council to create two housing targets following the Government’s decision to give local authorities the power to set targets.

Mr. Redwood told The Wokingham Times he did not want to put a figure on what the borough’s homes target should be, although he does believe they must be reduced.

However, he added: “We should have two different figures, one on the assumption that the garrison is going to be available and one on the assumption it is not.

“The big site for the houses is the garrison site so we should cover that point if it is not available.”

Several residents’ questions due to be asked of Wokingham Borough Council’s executive committee regarding housing numbers were deferred at a meeting last Thursday as the authority plans to go back to the drawing board with its Core Strategy.

There was good and bad news for Arborfield residents, who have been campaigning for the 3,500 homes planned for Arborfield Garrison to be built “behind the wire”, or within the existing base’s boundaries.

Councilor Angus Ross, executive member for local and regional planning, said this would not be possible, however added the Ministry of Defence’s departure from Arborfield Garrison and its release for housing was no longer a certainty.

He said at last week’s meeting at Shute End: “We have written to the secretary of state asking for clarification.

“We understand that a decision on the Defence Training Review, which includes the move of the current units at the garrison, will be made in the autumn.

“Therefore as of today we are not sure when or if this site will be available.

“It should be noted that for this site to be sustainable as per the Core Strategy it must bring forward the whole of the strategic development location area, be fore 3,500 dwellings and also include land both within and outside the ‘wire’, the garrison boundary.”

Under the Core Strategy, 12,500 homes would need to be built by 2026 under targets set by the last Government. The council has proposed building the bulk of these in four locations, including the garrison, north of Wokingham town, south of Wokingham and south of the M4.

Local people have long fought for the housing numbers to be reduced, writing in their thousands of protest the targets when a regional consultation was held several years ago.

Mr Redwood said after the meeting: “I’m pleased the council is going to review the housing numbers. I have warned the council consistently the future of Arborfield Garrison is by no means guaranteed.”

Mr Redwood said there are three options the Government may take with the carrison. One is the planned move of the REME troops to Wales does go ahead and the site becomes available. Alternatively the defence review may decide to keep the base for REME or move REME out but retain the site for another area of the armed forces.

At last week’s meeting, Andy Simpson, from Joel Park Residents’ Association, asked Cllr David Lee, leader of the council, what housing numbers he believed appropriate for Wokingham as the council had frequently pointed out the targets were forced upon the borough.

He said: “We have in the past argued against housing numbers that were in the South East Plan. I do not recall I commented that [the housing numbers] were too high or too low or just right.

“I can’t tell you what this figure should be because we will have to sit down and consider it rationally.”

When the South East Plan was being finalised in 2006, then-council leader Cllr Frank Browne argued for a housing target of 310 homes a year from 2005 to 2026.

There was also mention of the target 450 homes a year being more acceptable than the 623 homes a year for 20 years that was eventually approved.

Cllr Lee pointed out at the meeting the borough had seen nearly 800 homes built each year for the last 33 years.

Cllr Ross also said the Core Strategy would enable the council to end infill development that had blighted the borough.

He said: “To put housing numbers into context, those built in back gardens over the last 10 years have contributed very little, if anything, to highways investment because the site size never triggered the figure where by they had to, nor did they make any meaningful contribution to our affordable housing.

“Our Core Strategy, combined with recent changes [to rules on minimum densities for house building and reclassification of back gardens from brownfield] has stopped this and all development will now make fair and adequate contributions to infrastructure.”

Residents at the meeting were told the council would be considering the criteria for housing numbers and the process needed to follow to adopt them.

Changing the housing numbers will affect other areas of the Core Strategy, such as infrastructure and how this will be funded.

© The Wokingham Times - S&B media 2010

© First printed in: The Wokingham Times 2nd July 2010

Contributed by: Trevor Stubberfield (52A)



Sunday Express Dated 23 August 2009.


St Athan Site 01 w o

Copyright © Express Newspapers.

Contributed by: Alan Morton 51B



Powered by The Wokingham Times 11/07/2009



Clash over Garrison homes' plans

By Alice Murphy
July 06, 2009

Debate continues to rage over how many homes should be built at Arborfield Garrison in the next 20 years.

Wokingham Borough Council has earmarked the site for 3,500 homes as part of its core strategy, which sets out where 13,500 new homes will be built in Wokingham.

The ruling Conservatives have backed the figure, however Wokingham Liberal Democrats have argued following an executive committee meeting last Thursday the number should be increased to 5,000 homes.

The issue was raised after Councillor Mike Gore, Tory member for Arborfield, quizzed the executive about plans for the Garrison during the meeting.

Cllr Gore said: “The core strategy has plans to build 3,500 houses in my area and when I attended the examination in public, the developers were pressing for more houses. Can you comment on this?”

Cllr Gary Cowan, executive member for planning, transport and the environment, said building more than 3,500 homes would make the housing “squashed together with no gardens and no car parking spaces and it’s likely to cause problems”.

He added: “We will fight tooth and nail to stop such extremes.”

The core strategy proposes four major development sites, with two in Wokingham town, one to the south of the M4 near Three Mile Cross, and the other at Arborfield Garrison.

The Lib Dems argue if the extra 1,500 homes they would earmark for Arborfield were divided between the three other planned sites, the infrastructure would suffer.

They say the houses in Arborfield would encourage a sense of community. 

Lib Dem leader Cllr Prue Bray said: “Under the Tory plan, they’re having to cram 1,500 extra houses into Wokingham town instead of Arborfield, which will put huge pressure on our already congested roads, and all the other services.”

A Government inspector’s final decision on the core strategy is expected in the autumn.

© First printed in: The Wokingham Times 6th July 2009

Contributed by: Trevor Stubberfield (52A)



Local News in Reading


Garrison camp to close$plit/C_67_article_2007048_body_articleblock_0_bodyimage.jpg

Arborfield Garrison is to close following a decision to relocate its training facilities to South Wales, it has been announced.

The camp is set to lose hundreds of soldiers and civilian defence staff when the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Arms School moves to RAF St Athan in a shake-up of training.

It will mark the end of more than 100 years of military presence on the site.

Arborfield councillor Gary Cowan said: “From the village perspective it’s a bombshell.

“Although expected, it was not expected to be quite so hard and quite so abrupt.

“Arborfield has had a very close link between the civilian and Army population – a lot of people come to the garrison, serve their time, come out and remain in the village and quite a few are working on the garrison.

“They will have to move to South Wales and leave family and friends they have established in the community.

“The other concern is the impact on the local businesses – to lose its support in the pubs, shops and schools would be quite a lot.”

The Evening Post exclusively revealed almost three years ago to the day that Arborfield Garrison could be beating a retreat by 2008 if plans for its closure were rubber-stamped.

The Army Technical Foundation College was the first casualty when it closed in 2005. 

The Defence Food Services School, formerly called the Aldershot-based Army School of Catering, is due to move into the unused buildings under the Phase 2 part of the Defence Training Review (DTR).

Defence Secretary Des Browne announced Arborfield’s shift to South Wales on Wednesday this week as part of a phase one DTR announcement, revealing Metrix Consortium had won a £14 billion contract to provide training for the MoD.

This initial phase over five years from 2008 would concentrate training at two major sites – RAF St Athan near Cardiff and HMS Sultan in Gosport.

If chosen to carry out the second phase, Metrix will provide training for 4,500 people currently spread across 18 sites in the UK at St Athan and smaller facilities at Leconfield and Wethersfield.

The 1,500 students attending Arborfield every year will now learn from St Athan, with 300 military staff, 111 civilian workers and 420 contractors forced to choose whether to relocate or change jobs.

But Defence spokeswoman Susan Coulthard said: “Nobody is going anywhere at least until 2011 – it’s a new build which is going to take some considerable time.

“We don’t just say, ‘You’re going’ and they go, there’s a lot of preparation work to be done with relocation, families and schools.

“Part of the package is caring for our people so ensuring the transfer is seamless.”

She added training for ground crew for the Apache helicopter would remain in Arborfield.

Of phase two, Miss Coulthard added: “Arborfield may be affected – some training establishments could move to Arborfield.”

But Cllr Cowan said his other concern was the fate of the site by this second phase.

“The other problem in terms of housing is the MoD has put the land forward for mixed use (business and housing) of 2,000-3,000 houses on a 171-hectare site so they’ve worded it very vaguely,” he said.

“The problem is the MoD has decided they will retain the garrison and no decision has yet been taken on its future.

“It will close by 2011 to 2013 but they haven’t said, ‘We’ll release it’, so it puts us in limbo on when they will let us have it.

“Until we have a commitment from them to release the land, it’s difficult to plan any development.”

But he added: “The MoD did say they would make another announcement in the summer so they may decide by then.”

First printed in: Reading Evening Post 19th January 2007

Contributed by: Trevor Stubberfield (52A)




22/4/2005 - Catering college plan for garrison


Joy: 'they are starting to expand'

JUBILANT army chiefs have expressed joy at plans to shift the force’s catering college to a new home at Arborfield Garrison.
The Army School of Catering (ASC), currently based in Aldershot, is due to move into the unused Army Technical Foundation College (ATFC) site towards the end of 2006.
Villagers and staff were disappointed to hear the whole garrison might be completely axed by 2008 after the Evening Post exclusively revealed the ATFC closure last year as part of a Defence Training Review.
The college, which was based at Arborfield’s Rowcroft Barracks, combined with the Army Foundation College in Harrogate last August.
There were fears that the rest of the garrison, which includes the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers HQ and the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering, would also eventually end its 101 years of military presence.
But garrison spokesman Captain Tom Ash said the plan to get the ASC into the old ATFC site was a “firm favourite” among proposals being floated, which included selling off the land for
development or moving British Army units from Germany to set up base.
Formal confirmation of the ASC move has yet to be rubber-stamped.
Capt Ash said that although this still meant the long-term future of the Biggs Lane garrison was uncertain, the ASC arrival would boost usage of the site in the meantime.
He added: “Arborfield has been home to REME for some time and I’m pleased to see the garrison going strong.”
Councillor Gary Cowan, who represents Arborfield and is Wokingham District Council’s executive member for planning, said: “It was not as everybody anticipated – we thought they would start to withdraw but they are starting to expand. “They are looking at it now.”
“The view is it would all be done and dusted by 2008. Now they’re saying they won’t take any decision until 2010.”
Cllr Cowan heard the news when garrison community liaison officer Major David Goldsworthy spoke to the parish council on Tuesday.
Major Goldsworthy said they wanted to boost engineer apprentice trainees by “a couple of hundred”.
“He gave the impression that with the amount of money spent in the garrison (£3.8 million over the last 18 months) it would stay for some years to come,” he said.
But Cllr Cowan said although Wokingham District Council saw it as a “prime site” for future development the authority was also “erring on the side of caution”.
“You can never tell with military establishments but we continue to work with the MoD and if sections become available we would look at that but it’s very dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket,” he said.
He added: “It might be handy if 200 catering trainees were there – we might get some decent meals.”





ARBORFIELD Garrison might not be closing its doors and will “almost definitely” become an army catering college, The Wokingham Times can exclusively reveal.
Contrary to popular belief, the 101-year-old army base is actually looking to strengthen its position as a barracks and could become home to an army catering school by the end of 2006.
The announcement at a meeting of Barkham Parish Council was described as a “bombshell” by chairman Cllr Pam Stubbs, because many residents assumed the garrison move was still going ahead.
In January 2004 proposals for the closure had been rubber-stamped by Government ministers and an MoD official confirmed it would close by 2008 to “provide fewer, better resourced centres dispersed across the country under defence training rational proposals”.
But at the parish council’s annual meeting last Tuesday, Major David Goldsworthy told councillors that £3.8 million had been spent on the garrison’s infrastructure in the past 18 months.
And he cast doubt on whether the closure would go ahead at all.
He said: “We are not going anywhere in the short term. We have 700 soldiers training at any one time and that remains constant as long as we can get the recruits in.
“The way things are going it’s changing daily – no-one knows whether it will close or not.
“The commandant is keen that the local people are well aware of what’s going on which is why I’m here tonight.
“In the short term the barracks will remain. £3.8 million has been spent on infrastructure and I would like to think because that sort of money is being released for the infrastructure if we don’t stay then somebody else will.
“Until we hear otherwise this is where we’re going to be.”
The garrison is the HQ of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and is also home to the School of Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering.
Until August last year it was also the base of the Army Technical Foundation College, but that moved to Harrogate, compounding rumours of its closure.
But Captain Tom Ash, adjutant at the garrison, told The Wokingham Times the space left by the college would probably be used for a catering school.
“The garrison will definitely remain open for the foreseeable future”, he said.
“No decision was ever made to say the whole barracks would definitely close – all we knew for definite was that the army technical foundation college would move to Harrogate.
“It’s almost definite that the army school of catering will move in the latter half of next year which suggests it’s going nowhere.”
At the parish council meeting Cllr Stubbs said it would be “interesting” to see what would happen in terms of housing that was unofficially earmarked for the site.
She said: “There are a fair number of people who think the garrison is going to go and if it’s not it makes things somewhat different.
“It’s difficult to know what to make of it. All the reports we’ve had have been saying almost the opposite.
“Now all of a sudden it’s all about face. What was said at the meeting was a bombshell – we had no idea this was coming.”




Arborfield Garrison, which is due to close in 2008, has played a large part in the local community for the past century. Here TIM HOBDEN takes a brief look back over its long and proud history.


FROM the time it was established to train horses for the cavalry to the present engineers corps, there has been a military presence in Arborfield for 100 years.

   At the moment, hundreds of soldiers live on the site, which is home to the Royal (Electrical) and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and the Army Technical Foundation (College).

 The base started life in 1904 as one of the army’s main training centers for cavalry and gun-carriage horses.

   Hazel Crozier, from the REME museum, has traced the history of the garrison and the influence it has had on the area since the rolling fields of Barkham were replaced with a mini-military town.

   For the first 10 years the army had little impact on the day-to-day life in Wokingham, but by 1914 the garrison sprawled to more than 100 acres of land.

   During the First World War 1,000 horses from Ireland travelled to Wokingham railway station and on to a depot at the garrison.

 It was a welcome boost primarily for local blacksmiths and heralded the start of a new relationship between local people and the base.

   Until it closed in 1937, the depot was home to 500 horses at any one time and, with 150 people working there, it was the area’s biggest employer.

   In 1942 the land was taken over by army engineers and even boasted uniformed luminaries such as Arthur Lowe – Captain in Dad’s Army – who served with the engineers during the Second World War.

   Garrisonites had already picked up a reputation for providing great entertainment in the area.

   A group of soldiers known as the Zepps, dressed up as Zeppelin airships and performed for local villagers in the church hall.

   The Army Technical College opened in May 1939 for engineering apprentices and could train 1,000 people. It’s now the Army Training (sic) Foundation College.

   Towards the end of the Second World War the garrison was used as a medical centre and for accommodation for troops before the Normandy Landings.

   After the conflict REME remained stationed at the barracks, building up a relationship with local people.

   In October 1978, the corps was granted the status of honorary townspeople of Wokingham after a 36-year association.

   Until 1989 REME paraded through the town each year to celebrate the honour, although this was stopped due to cutbacks with such parades reserved for special occasions.

   Ms Crozier said: “The corps retains its warm relationship with the people of Wokingham as shown by its 60th anniversary march past in 2002.”

   Community leaders will be keeping a close eye on developments at the garrison in the hope that this military heartland is not buried beneath housing estates.





Monday 12th January 2004



Arborfield base to close by 2008

THE last post is about to sound for Arborfield Garrison which could be beating a retreat within four years.

If plans for its closure are rubber-stamped it will mark the end of more than 100 years of
military presence on the site, which currently houses hundreds of soldiers with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) HQ, the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering and the Army Technical Foundation College.

It is not clear what will become of the 600 homes the Army owns at the garrison and no planning application has been made to develop the land, which is classed as countryside on the Local Plan rather than suitable settlement for housing.

Part of the land has already been sold to Reading Football Club, which is building a training centre there. The garrison started life as a Remount Depot in 1904 when it was one of the army’s main training centres for cavalry and gun-carriage horses.

It became home to REME during the Second World War in 1942 at which time Arthur Lowe – Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army – was serving with the engineers.

The base is home to hundreds rather than thousands of soldiers. Wokingham councillor Gary Cowen said: “I think it probably will close but officially it will not be announced for a couple of years. As a council we need to watch the position very carefully because of the impact on our community and what will happen to the land – we’re concerned more houses will be shoehorned in.”

The army college will be the first casualty of the proposed closure when it stops taking recruits in August and closes fully in March next year. The redundancy terms for college staff will be revealed later this month.

Some have already left but many are expected to transfer within the MOD when the Rowcroft Barracks-based college is scheduled for complete closure in March 2005.

A senior college source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the news was a “bolt from the blue” just four months ago. He said: “We put a really good case forward for the college but it didn’t make any difference – it’s a fait accompli. Staff have been told, ‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time’.

We all knew it was going to happen one day but it’s the way it happened – we have been railroaded.”

Government ministers have rubber-stamped proposals and are waiting for the outcome of consultation between the Army Training and Recruitment Agency and trade unions before final arrangements are announced this month.

The college was formerly known as the Army Technical School and officially opened on May 1, 1939.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A





First Published: 15th January 2004.

Layout revised: 21st October 2010.






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